FREE STATE ARTS & CULTURE
Hawks arrest six for allegedly embezzling Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Museum funds
The Hawks allege that fraudulent activities by the six accused caused the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation to suffer a loss of more than R700,000.
Senior government officials and private company directors are facing charges relating to the alleged looting of funds intended for the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Brandfort House Museum in the Free State. Investigators claim that the accused embezzled funds and that service providers were appointed without following the proper procurement processes.
The six accused appeared briefly in the Welkom Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. They are:
- Humphrey Tsoarelo Malakoane (56), a former head of the Free State Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, and current head of the Free State Department of Education;
- Nontsikelelo Eunice Aaron (55), the former municipal manager of the Lejweleputswa District Municipality;
- Lebogang Aubrey Sebeela (47), a former supply chain management director at the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation;
- Monyana Matthews Sefantse (53), the municipal manager of Nketoana Local Municipality;
- Errens Lodewikus Celliers (80), a company director; and
- Sithiwe Thubane (47), a company director.
They face counts of fraud, theft, contravention of the Public Finance Management Act and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.
The accused were not asked to plead and were granted bail of R20,000 each, except for Aaron, who was granted R3,000 bail, and Celliers, who was granted bail of R10,000.
Daily Maverick contacted the museum, which confirmed it was operational.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Brandfort: Place of hollow forgetting and shallow remembering”
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
In October 2021, Daily Maverick assistant editor Marianne Thamm wrote: “The ‘museum’ is devoid of artefacts or any trace of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The Special Investigating Unit is investigating complaints that money was siphoned off by officials and contractors.”
The dilapidated state of the museum Thamm sums up as: “Neglect of Winnie Mandela’s legacy, the lack of commitment to honouring her memory … as well as the alleged misappropriation of funds for a memorial in her home province of Bizana, reveal the ANC’s shallow remembering and hollow forgetting of a Struggle icon.”
In the 2011/12 financial year, the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation paid a large sum for construction work on Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s former home in the Free State, for it to be converted into a museum.
The issue of the museum was raised during the ANC’s latest policy discussion paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage.
The six accused were arrested by the Hawks on Tuesday morning.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Christopher Singo said: “It is alleged that during the period of January 2008 until December 2010, money was allocated to the Brandfort Museum project, popularly known as the Winnie Mandela Museum, by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.
“The money allocated was then misused and the service providers were appointed without following the proper procurement processes. The project was coordinated by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and Lejweleputswa District Municipality. As a result of these fraudulent activities, the Department of Sport, Art and Culture suffered a loss of more than R700,000.”
The case, Singo said, was postponed to 11 November so that further suspects could be arrested. DM