Former KZN head of Treasury to be sentenced for fraud and corruption

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The former head of the KwaZulu-Natal Treasury, Sipho Shabalala, is due to be sentenced in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Thursday following his conviction on charges of fraud and corruption.

Shabalala was also convicted of money laundering and contravening the Public Finance Management Act in connection with a R44 million contract to buy 22 water purification plants for rural areas.

The court found that money was transferred from a poverty alleviation fund to the Department of Cooperative Governance to buy the plants, which were forced on municipalities.

Although the purchase was treated as urgent, the last of the plants were only erected 10 years later.

Shabalala was among 23 people who were initially arrested in 2010.

Cooperative Governance MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and Health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni were also in the dock.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), however, dropped charges against the MECs and several other accused over the years.

The court has heard that Shabalala maintains, despite his conviction, that he did not act unlawfully, but only carried out instructions of his political superiors.

The remaining seven accused, including the contractor, Gaston Savoi from Uruguay, are standing trial separately.