Bushbuckridge councillor allegedly involved in student training scam

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A Bushbuckridge municipality councillor has appeared in the Bushbuckridge Magistrate’s Court for his alleged role in a scam involving the theft of more than R80 000 from students who applied to take part in a training programme.

Learnard Malomane, 43, who is also a member of the council’s mayoral committee, appeared in court on Monday alongside his co-accused, Bongani Sibuyi, 27, and Palesa Pertunia Maja, 23.

The Hawks in Mpumalanga arrested the three after they investigated the students’ complaints when classes were suddenly cancelled in October 2017.

According to Hawks spokesperson, Captain Dineo Sekgotodi, the students were invited to apply for leadership training and sales. It was allegedly claimed that the municipality and co-hosts, Leadership 2020, approved the training.

Applicants had to submit their CVs and pay an administration fee of R250 into a First National Bank account. But the account did not belong to the council.

There were 351 students who were selected to undergo the training, provided by Ultimate Training Programme (UTC). 

Malomane was appointed project leader.

Students taking part signed an agreement and were promised a monthly stipend of R3 000 over a period of five months.

Problems arose in the second month when the students and facilitators complained they had not been paid. 

Shortly thereafter, the three accused disappeared, it is alleged.

The Hawks took over the investigation and it was established that Malomane and his co-accused allegedly told UTC that the programme was cancelled by the council.

It transpired that the programme was never planned or supported by the council and that the administration fees as well as subsidies amounting to more than R80 000 were paid into an account belonging to Umphile Thuto Consultant (UTC) – and entity which had links to Maja and Sibuyi.

It was also uncovered that Malomane facilitated the scam from his municipal office.

The three accused were granted R3 000 bail each and the case was postponed to June 6 for further investigation.  

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