The owner of Boitekanelo College, Dr Tiroyaone Mampane, spent Wednesday night in jail after graft busters from Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) raided offices at the school in Tlokweng and confiscated laptops, desktops, tablets and cell phones in a sting operation over a suspicious claim submitted to government. The arrest and detention was triggered by a letter signed by Dr Mampane dated 01 November 2017 through which he asked the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology Dr Alfred Madigele to intervene to help them recover an outstanding payment from the Department of Tertiary Education Financing. Dr Mampane explained that on 25 April 2016, Boitekanelo submitted the original invoice of outstanding sponsored students tuition fee amounting to P9 118 375.00. Subsequently a part payment of P3 489 805.00 was effected on 01 February 2017 leaving a balance of P5 265 530.00. "We regret to inform your honourable office that after reconciling our records, sponsorship confirmation and providing the same to DTEF, nothing has been received from them despite our constant communication and invoice sent on 27 October 2017. It is against this background that...the decision (was) taken to solicit your intervention," complained Dr Mampane, adding that delays in payment have caused serious financial constraints which make it difficult for Boitekanelo to meet business demands and obligations. Confirming the raid, confiscation of college equipment and the overnight detention of the founding president of Boitekanelo, Head of Corporate Services Thato Kgaodi said they were shocked by what transpired. He said men identifying themselves as DCEC officers stormed their offices on Wednesday brandishing a court order authorising them to confiscate computers, laptops, ipads and cell phones from some offices before demanding that Dr Mampane produce his laptops. Dr Mampane, Karabo Moilwa from the Finance department and Boitekanelo College are cited as respondents in the documents. "This is unusual. We have submitted many claims to the Ministry of Education over the years and have never been accused of trying to defraud government. We have even developed a system where if either party queries entries or needs clarification over some information both parties meet to reconcile their documents without alleging fraud," said Kgaodi.
The youthful college owner is said to have explained to the DCEC agents that he does not use laptops but conducts business through tablets and cell phones but they would have none of that as they feared he may be economical with the truth. At some point Dr Mampane is said to have volunteered to allow DCEC agents to search his residence, a proposal which they accepted but later changed their minds along the way saying they need to take further instructions from their superiors. Kgaodi explained that the agents later claimed that they could not secure a search warrant for Dr Mampane's residence as it was late and decided to deliver him to Bontleng police station where he was to spend the night in holding cells. When they could not secure space in the crammed cells they took him to Central Police Station where he was detained until around lunchtime on Thursday, when the search finally took place. Dr Mampane was released on Thursday afternoon but not before DCEC agents obtained a search warrant and ransacked his home searching for laptops and other electronic gadgets, which they suspect he uses to transact business. Electronic gadgets belonging to the wife of Dr Mampane were confiscated, despite that she is not employed by Boitekanelo College. The DCEC, who are constrained by law from publishing on-going investigations by discussing details in public, are said to have cautioned Dr Mampane when releasing him on Thursday that investigations into the suspicious claim are continuing. "We do not know how long they are going to keep our equipment and gadgets. They promised to communicate if anything new comes up," said Kgaodi. The Patriot on Sunday has unearthed information showing correspondence between Boitekanelo college accountant (Moilwa) and Acting Chief Finance Officer at DTEF Neo Maruping over the disputed claim. In an email dated October 23 Maruping informed Moilwa that the invoice submitted by Boitekanelo to DTEF for the period August 2017 to December 2017 dated 16 October 2017 amounting to P4, 772. 320.00 contained most of the students who do not appear on the current register of students sponsored for 2017/18. "In fact, it seems most completed their studies the year end of academic year 2016/17. Kindly verify and advise," she wrote.
The next morning Moilwa responded explaining that the said invoice was supposed to be a recovery invoice and that a wrong list of students was attached to it. He said the names of students in the concerned outstanding claim should not appear in the current DTEF register because they have all graduated. After explaining that the current claim is over an outstanding payment of P5.2 million Moilwa advised that the correct invoice will be attached and delivered to DTEF the next morning. Numerous attempts by Boitekanelo College to persuade DTEF to settle the debt proved futile. When DTEF failed to act on the corrected claim, Dr Mampane sought the intervention of the minister to expedite the process only to be ambushed by DCEC agents a week later. Kgaodi explains that confusion, which was falsely interpreted as an attempt to defraud DTEF, was caused by failure to edit the date on the invoice that reads "Invoice for Diplomas and Degrees Courses for period July 2017 to December 2017 overdue". Notwithstanding the date error in the heading of the invoice the contents of the table clearly show that all the courses in the claim were undertaken between January 2012 and December 2015. When contacted to comment on the developments on Friday afternoon Dr Madigele claimed that he was not aware of the appeal to his office by Boitekanelo College despite that the latter are adamant that the letter was delivered to him last week. But the DCEC agents who raided Boitekanelo College campus in Tlokweng on Wednesday are said to have explained to management that they were arresting Dr Mampane because he authored the letter to the minister. Probed further over the contents of the letter to the minister, the agents are said to have added that they suspect the claim submitted by Boitekanelo and supported by Dr Mampane, was fraudulent. Ministry spokesperson whose portfolio covers DTEF, Silas Sehularo, had not responded to questions emailed to him at the time of going to print, saying he needed more time until next week to find information to respond.