diamond officials

Illegal diamonds mysteriously disappear, senior officials in court

Four senior government officials have appeared in court to face charges related to fraud and the illegal purchase of uncut diamonds.

diamond officials

The purchase of illegal diamonds, that mysteriously vanished, alleged fraud and the abuse of R6,7 million in international donor funds from the European Union (EU) intended for the government form the subject of a top level police investigation that has now reached the courts.

Four senior government officials from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism appeared in court to face charges of fraud and of contravening the Diamonds Act and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) this week. 

The officials, Patrick Seboko, 66, a former HOD, Kuberin Packirisamy, 60, CFO, Tebogo Basil Gaborone, 46, senior manager project team and Lizette Wyngaard, 56, chief director, trade and sector development at the Department of Economic Development and Tourism appeared in the Kimberley Magistrates court on Wednesday 22 September and Thursday 23 September to face the slew of charges. One of the charges relates to the acquisition of rough, uncut diamonds that was supposed to be used by students who were training to cut and polish the precious stones,  allegedly without proper licenses. The diamonds also mysteriously disappeared.

Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase said the charges against the officials had stemmed from the abuse of doctor funds.

“These charges stem from the donor funding surpassing  R6.7 million received from the European Union during the 2010/2011 financial year. The funds were intended for training students in cutting and polishing uncut (unpolished) diamonds,” Nkwalase said.

“The diamonds were bought in March 2011 from a private entity without the necessary licences to buy rough diamonds, consequently these diamonds were stored at the premises of the same private entity.”

Forty students were enrolled in the same year, to undergo a mining  qualification course in cutting and polishing of diamonds that was to be facilitated by the Kimberley Diamonds International Jewellery Academy (KIDJA). However, the diamonds had disappeared without a trace.

“It was established that the diamonds were missing and unaccounted for in July 2012, this was uncovered during the random inspection by the Auditor General,” Nkwalase said.

The case against the three senior officials and one former government official was postponed to 22 October 2021. The suspects were all  released on R10 000 bail each.