Covid-19 corruption-busting judge is the new Special Tribunal president

Judge Lebogang Modiba, who has overseen the seizure of assets and money in Covid-19-related procurement fraud cases worth more than R500-million, has been appointed president of the Special Tribunal.

Judges Soma Naidoo and Johannes Daffue, both of the Free State high court, have been added as tribunal members. 

In February, Modiba made an order to take away “irregular” profits from 49 companies that received a total of R431-million from unlawful contracts to decontaminate Gauteng schools when the pandemic broke out in the country in March 2020. 

Modiba is also responsible for the order freezing the pensions of Kabelo Lehloenya, the Gauteng health department’s former chief financial officer, and Mkhululi Lukhele, the provincial health department’s head and accounting officer. 

The two are being pursued by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for their “intentional, unlawful and wrongful misconduct” in the awarding of more than R120-million in personal protective equipment contracts to Thandisizwe Diko’s companies, Ledla Structural Development and Beadica 430. 

The SIU seeks to recover more than R42-million from Lehloenya, and has frozen both hers and Lukhele’s pension funds. 

Diko, who has since died, was the husband of former presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko, who is also facing an SIU investigation after it emerged that she allegedly received a R1-million payment into her account from that of Royal Bhaca Projects, which also belonged to her spouse.

The R1-million, according to the SIU, was proceeds from the controversial communications contracts worth more than R100-mion which were awarded to Digital Vibes, and resulted in the resignation of former health minister Zweli Mkhize. 

Special Tribunal spokesperson Selby Makgotho said Modiba, who has been with the tribunal since 2019 and is also part of the electoral court, replaces Judge Mlindelwa Gidfonia Makhanya, who has retired. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa had signed the proclamation appointing Modiba as the tribunal’s new president, Makgotho added.

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Khaya Koko
Khaya Koko is a journalist with a penchant for reading through legal documents braving the ravages of cold court benches to expose the crooked. He writes about social justice and human-interest stories. Most importantly, he is a card-carrying member of the Mighty Orlando Pirates.

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