Pretoria – Former top South African Revenue Service (SARS) official Mandisa Mokwena, who was a former business partner of First Lady Thobeka Zuma, has been exonerated of all charges related to a corrupt enterprise aimed at obtaining tenders illegally.
Mokwena, who headed SARS' risk management division before being appointed as group executive of the segmentation and research division, was charged with corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering.
The charges relate to her role in ensuring SARS training and research tenders were awarded to her former supervisor at Unisa and his wife during September 2007 and July 2009, in her capacity as the head of SARS' risk management division.
A judgment by the North Gauteng High Court handed down on Tuesday by Judge Sulet Potterill found Mokwena not guilty on all the charges levelled against her.
Some of her co-accused - including former director of the School of Economic Sciences at Unisa, Oludele Akinboade, his wife Ashuma, Emilie Djoumessi, and Professor Agyapong Gyekye (dean of the School of Management Services at Venda University) - were found guilty on counts of fraud and racketeering.
Akinboade accused a SARS rogue unit of fabricating a case against him; however, Judge Potterill found there was no evidence to support this claim.
Mokwena's colleague at SARS, Leslie Moonsamy, was also found guilty of fraud.
As for the corruption charges, the state alleged that sums of money paid into Mokwena's account was for gratification of corrupt activities.
Mokwena's defence was that these payments were made by the State Security Agency for work she did for them as a source, as well as a stokvel payment she received.
Judge Potterill said she could not reject the evidence that Mokwena was a source and that she was paid for reports. She also ruled that the state had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the payments were part of a corrupt process.
Mokwena's attorney, Arno Venter, said justice has prevailed. Mokwena declined to comment, but was clearly elated as she hugged and thanked her defence team.