Disgraced MP's family wrest home from state's clutches
ANC MP died before she could be convicted, so it's unfair to forfeit her family's home, says judge
The family of a disgraced ANC MP who died before she could be convicted of corruption, have won a court bid to avoid their house being confiscated by the state.
A ruling by the Kimberley High Court, ordering the forfeiture of Yolanda Botha’s home in the Northern Cape city, was overturned last week by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Instead, Botha’s mother, Gesiena, the executor of her estate, has to pay R758,000 into the state’s criminal assets recovery account. This is the outstanding amount by which Botha benefited from her corrupt activities.
The appeal court confirmed that Botha’s 10% share in Trifecta, the company with which she conspired, must also be forfeited to the state. At the time she received the shares, they were worth R28m.
Botha was charged alongside Trifecta CEO Christo Scholtz and former Northern Cape ANC chairperson John Block with fraud, corruption and money laundering related to leases for government buildings.
She gave evidence in the trial before dying in December 2014 after skin cancer spread to her brain. In 2015, Scholtz and Block were convicted and each sentenced to 15 years. They are still out on bail pending an application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court.
Acting appeal judge Fikile Mokgohloa said Botha was head of the Northern Cape social services and population department when she flouted procedures to lease buildings from Trifecta for R81m. In return, Trifecta made improvements worth R1.2m to her home in Monument Heights and gave her 10% of the company.
Botha went to parliament as an ANC MP after the 2009 election and in 2011 was found guilty, by the joint committee on ethics and members’ interests, of failure to disclose the benefits she received from Trifecta. The criminal charges followed.
“The court made adverse findings against her but did not pronounce on her guilt,” said Mokgohloa.
In April 2011, Botha repaid R411,000 to Trifecta, and the judge said it was unfair to confiscate a house worth about R1.9m when the outstanding amount was only R758,000.
Following Botha’s death, then social development minister Bathabile Dlamini said she had “a deep understanding of the plight of the poor”.