Te­flon ‘con­vict’ lands an­other job

Ap­par­ently jailed in 2006. Re­hired by same mu­nic­i­pal­ity in 2008. Charged again in 2015 with cor­rup­tion. But Melusi Motha de­nies he was ever in jail

Mail & Guardian - - News - Athandiwe Saba

De­spite 18 months in prison for fraud and forgery, one man was able to move from jail into a job in a Lim­popo mu­nic­i­pal­ity. And — amid fur­ther cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions — he was then able to move to a job at a paras­tatal, North­west Trans­port In­vest­ments (NTI), two months ago.

Melusi Motha is em­ployed in the pub­lic ser­vice as an in­dus­trial labour re­la­tions man­ager at NTI, the state com­pany that pro­vides buses in Lim­popo, North West and Gaut­eng. But his ap­point­ment has raised eye­brows be­cause of claims that he was ar­rested for fraud and forgery in 2004 while work­ing as a pub­lic prose­cu­tor in Mid­del­burg, con­victed and spent time in jail.

But Motha de­nies ever be­ing ar­rested, let alone spend­ing time in prison. He claims that he is be­ing tar­geted be­cause of his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of NTI, Bukeka Mahlut­shana, said the com­pany had con­ducted due dili­gence on Motha be­fore ap­point­ing him. She pro­duced a po­lice clear­ance cer­tifi­cate, which states that Motha has never been con­victed of a crime.

“The checks con­ducted by the Na­tional Val­i­da­tion Ser­vices and sub­mit­ted to us … are neg­a­tive and the crim­i­nal check re­sults from the South African Po­lice Ser­vice con­firms that no con­vic­tions have been recorded for any crime against Mr Motha,” said Mahlut­shana.

A po­lice doc­u­ment dated 2015, which the Mail & Guardian has seen, at­tests to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into “per­ceived fraud, per­jury and de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice by Ja­cob Melusi Motha”.

“Your re­quest was in­ves­ti­gated by this of­fi­cer and it was found that in­deed Ja­cob Melusi Motha was con­victed and sen­tenced to five years and was given pa­role,” reads the doc­u­ment. “Both the case dock­ets and the charge sheets are nowhere to be found in Mid­del­burg.”

Tshidi Mapole, spokesper­son for the cor­rec­tional ser­vices depart­ment in the Lim­popo, Mpumalanga and North West re­gion, con­firmed that there was an of­fender at the Wit­bank Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre by the name of Ja­cob Melusi Motha who was sen­tenced to five years in Novem­ber 2004.

“How­ever, we can­not con­firm if the per­son in ques­tion and the one who re­flects on our sys­tem are the same per­son since the date of birth regis­tered with our cen­tre does not match that of the ID num­ber sup­plied on your me­dia en­quiry below. But it some­times oc­curs that some of­fend­ers pro­vide a false iden­tity num­ber when they get in­car­cer­ated,” Mapole said.

Motha’s crim­i­nal record was flagged by the South African Trans­port and Al­lied Work­ers Union (Satawu) when Motha was ap­pointed at NTI in Au­gust this year.

Sandy Motl­hak­eng, the lo­cal chair­per­son of Satawu, said it is very strange that Motha was short­listed be­cause “it is pub­lic knowl­edge that Motha has a crim­i­nal record”.

But Motha de­nies ever be­ing ar­rested or spend­ing time in any prison “here or abroad”.

He claims that, be­cause of his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, there are peo­ple he grew up with in Sekhukhune who had an axe to grind with him.

“You are talk­ing to me about face­less peo­ple who have given you this in­for­ma­tion,” Motha said.

“I will call them and fix this. I am a politi­cian in my own right and there are peo­ple who have a score to set­tle with me and they are mak­ing this story up.”

But Motha’s for­mer em­ployer, the Fe­tak­gomo Tu­batse mu­nic­i­pal­ity in Lim­popo, has con­firmed that he was an em­ployee in 2006 when he was ap­peal­ing his sen­tence.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s spokesper­son, Thabiso Mokoena, said Motha lost his ap­peal and had to leave the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to serve his sen­tence. He was re­leased by the pa­role board on good be­hav­iour.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity then re­hired him in a new po­si­tion af­ter he was re­leased. But then, in 2015, Motha was charged with 24 counts of gross neg­li­gence, cor­rup­tion and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion, lead­ing to his sub­se­quent res­ig­na­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments the M&G has seen, Motha was charged with fail­ing to dis­close that he had been crim­i­nally charged in 2006 and for em­ploy­ing an of­fi­cial with a crim­i­nal record. “You com­mit­ted an act of mis­con­duct in that on or about 18 July 2014, while ap­ply­ing for a po­si­tion of di­rec­tor cor­po­rate ser­vices with the Greater Tu­batse mu­nic­i­pal­ity, you were dis­hon­est in not dis­clos­ing in­for­ma­tion about your crim­i­nal case,” reads the charge

sheet.

His for­mer col­league, Marothi Mak­wela, wrote an af­fi­davit that would have been pre­sented at Motha’s dis­ci­plinary hear­ing. It stated that he had vis­ited Motha in jail on two oc­ca­sions.

“Dur­ing the time of Mr Melusi Ja­cob Motha’s in­car­cer­a­tion, I was in­structed to as­sist him with writ­ing [a] let­ter to the pa­role board on be­half of the mu­nic­i­pal man­ager … In one of the let­ters I sent to the pa­role board on his be­half I stated ve­he­mently that Mr MJ Motha will be re-em­ployed by the Greater Tu­batse mu­nic­i­pal­ity should he be re­leased on pa­role,” reads the af­fi­davit.

Mak­wela also stated that Motha was given a po­si­tion in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity even though he had a crim­i­nal record be­cause of his close re­la­tion­ship with cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als at the time. When the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity changed, Motha was charged for fail­ing to dis­close his crim­i­nal record.

Motha de­nies this and in­stead says that he re­signed in De­cem­ber 2015, be­fore his dis­ci­plinary hear­ing could start, and that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity ac­cepted his let­ter.

“It was an am­i­ca­ble sep­a­ra­tion. I knew they were af­ter me and they knew they had no case. So they let me re­sign,” he said.

Po­lice spokesper­son, Vish Naidoo was ap­proached for com­ment but had not re­sponded by the time the M&G went to print.

Un­clear: Po­lice records ex­ist for a sen­tence handed down for a per­son named Ja­cob Melusi Motha, yet a po­lice clear­ance cer­tifi­cate ex­on­er­ates a per­son with the same name

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