The Pietermaritzburg High Court has ordered former KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Treasury chief Sipho Shabalala to begin serving a 15-year jail term for fraud and corruption.

Fifty-six-year-old Shabalala was convicted last week in connection with an illegal contract to buy 22 rural water treatment plants from Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoie at an inflated price of 44 million rand in 2006.

The court found that Shabalala received 1.5 million rand from Savoi, whose company was awarded the contract after normal procurement processes were bypassed.

The money was transferred from the anti-poverty fund

The court heard the money was diverted from the anti-poverty fund to pay for factories that are not being used because of high maintenance costs.

Judge Dhaya Pillai rejected Shabalala’s application for leave to appeal his conviction and sentence.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Natasha Ramkissan-Kara says Shabalala has also applied for an extension to his bail of 100,000 rand.

“However, after being refused leave to appeal, Shabalala’s bail was revoked and he will have to start serving his sentence,” says Ramkisan-Kara.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in KZN welcomed the court’s findings to dismiss the application.

“This is evidence that KZN is making strides in our fight against corruption. We will continue to fulfill our mandate to eradicate corruption, especially in the public sector,” says Ramkisan-Kara.

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