Former UFH residence manager in court for fraud - NPA

Charges relate to awarding of R1,5m in tenders to son's company by his mother


21 February 2024

Former University of Fort Hare (UFH) Residence Manager, Thobeka Portia Heshula (68), her son, Ngcwengo Collin Uhuru Heshula (41),and his company, Heshula Solutions CC, appeared in the Alice Magistrates’ Court facing 53 counts of fraud, amounting to more that R1,5 million, forgery and uttering. The charges relate to the awarding of tenders to the son’s company by the mother in her capacity as the official responsible for appointment of service providers and authorisation of payments to those service providers. The state did not oppose bail and they were each released on R1000 bail, and the case has been transferred to the East London Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on 12 March 2024.

It is alleged that Thobeka Heshula, who has since retired from UFH, had the firsthand knowledge of tenders and contracts which the university needed to procure. Ngcwengo Heshula, with the advice of his mother, allegedly generated three quotations, aimed at creating misrepresentation that they were from three separate entities. The quotations were allegedly issued under the names of either fictitious entities or entities fronting under separate names.

The generation of these quotations were calculated to ensure that Heshula Solutions CC or entities with ties to it, would be appointed as the favourable service provider to UFH, as they would appear to have provide the cheapest quotation. The accused also allegedly authorised payments of invoices submitted by alleged entities for services that were not rendered. The wrongful and fraudulent scheme was allegedly conducted by the accused, in the period between July 2013 and March 2019.

An internal investigation by the university uncovered the alleged scheme, and Heshula has, subsequent to civil proceedings in Makhanda High Court, since paid back the funds with interest, totaling to R2 million. UFH has recently been marred by allegations of murders and attempted murders, allegedly committed by employees and businesspersons implicated in the investigations into the alleged widespread corruption at the institution.

In a separate matter, ten people are charged with the murder of University of Fort Hare (UFH) fleet manager, Petrus Roets, and the university’s Vice-chancellor’s (VC) bodyguard, Richard Vesele, as well as attempted murder of VC, Professor Sakhele Buhlungu and Deputy VC, Renuka Vithal, as well as corruption are due in Bhisho High Court on 08 October 2024.

Former UFH fleet officer, Bongani Peter (51), businessman who allegedly illegally benefited from UFH tenders, Sicelo Mbulawa (28), as well as former university employee, Wanini Khuza (69), Mthobisi Khanyile (28), Mthobisi Dlamini (30), Lindokuhle Manjati (31), Zimele Chiliza (36), Phelisa Nkonyeni (31), Thamsanqa Mgotyana (47) and Isaac Plaatjies (29) all face two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, reckless discharge of firearm, theft of a motor vehicle, unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. Peter, Mbulawa and Khuza are additionally charged with fraud.

Statement issued by Luxolo Tyali, NPA Regional Spokesperson, Eastern Cape Division, 21 February 2024