The Bloemfontein High Court has sentenced former Free State Education Department deputy Director General, Teboho Lioma to 10 years imprisonment for his involvement in tender corruption of which three years is suspended.
A lawyer Nelson Majola has also been sentenced to five years imprisonment of which two years is suspended.
Court B at the Bloemfontein High Court was filled with visibly tense friends and family members of the accused. The case relates to the allocation of learner material tenders in the Free State over a three year period.
It has been dragging on for years, following arrests by then organised Crime Unit, the Scorpions.
The accused include former SABC journalist turned businesswoman, Ntebo Lesetla and well-known controversial Free State businessman, Blacky Seoe.
Mabolela Distributors, a company linked to Seoe, secured a tender from Lioma’s department. The court found that the declaration of interest for the tender in question did not reflect the fact that Seoe and Lioma knew each other.
This is how Judge Faan Hancke handed down the sentence on the former deputy director general – Lioma – and one of his co accused.
“The accused number one is sentenced to 10 years of which three years is suspended for three years on condition that during the period of suspension he is not become guilty of fraud and theft committed on the period of his suspension. Accused number six is sentenced to five years imprisonment of which two years is suspended.”
Nine other people including business people and an education department senior administrator – were found guilty of fraud and corruption.
They received three year suspended sentences. Their sentences were commuted to correctional supervision in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.
Meanwhile, the Free State Education Department says it respects the country’s rule of law. Spokesperson Howard Ndaba says: “There is nothing we can say as the department except to say we have noted the court’s decision and we respect the court’s decision.”
The convicted Lioma and Majola are out on R5000 bail and are appealing their sentences.