The world of the Free State Gambling, Liquor and Tourism Authority (FSGLTA) has been rocked! Kennedy Mahlatsi, the husband of MEC Dibolelo Mahlatsi, has been given the boot, marking the end of a shady liquor licence operation.
Kennedy Mahlatsi, once a trusted figure at the FSGLTA, was found guilty of a string of charges that read like a crime novel: gross misconduct, dishonesty, fraud, forgery, and corruption, to name a few. The disciplinary hearing held on 12 December laid it all bare, and boy, was it a doozy!
Mahlatsi was given until 18 December to plead his case, but he missed the deadline, not once, but twice! Even after an extension by advocate Smanga Sethene, the hearing’s chairperson, Mahlatsi, didn’t budge. This led to Sethene stating firmly that it was not for Mahlatsi or his team to call the shots in the hearing.
Mahlatsi wasn’t acting solo in this debacle. He was the last domino to fall in what the hearing branded a “criminal enterprise.” His partners in crime? Papi Magashule and Bafana Mashinini are believed to be the mastermind behind it all.
The False Board Minutes Scam
Mashinini, the former legal manager, played a pivotal role. After admitting to faking board meeting minutes to issue illicit liquor licences, he was fired. Sethene was baffled by Mashinini’s actions, given his handsome salary at the FSGLTA, suggesting there was more to his crimes than met the eye.
Papi Magashule, who had been part of the FSGLTA for 12 years, was also dismissed on 22 December. He was found guilty of enabling this criminal operation by issuing illegal liquor licences.
Here’s how they pulled it off: In May last year, Mashinini presented several liquor licence applications, falsely claiming they were approved in FSGLTA board meetings. Despite no such discussions occurring in those meetings, he created fake minutes to get the licences issued. He even emailed applicants, telling them they could start their businesses, all without official approval.
Mashinini’s Confession and Denial
Mashinini owned up to writing the phoney minutes but insisted he worked alone. The FSGLTA, however, was convinced he colluded with Mahlatsi and Magashule in this fraudulent scheme. Sethene’s ruling was clear: “He was not acting alone.”
This scandal has sent shockwaves through the FSGLTA and beyond, spotlighting the need for stricter oversight in the issuance of liquor licences. With the ring now dismantled, the saga serves as a stark reminder of the importance of integrity and transparency in public service.