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Last Updated: Friday, 18 March, 2005, 16:25 GMT
SA MPs convicted over travel scam
Most of the accused MPs are from the ruling ANC
Five MPs from South Africa's ruling African National Congress have received fines of up to $14,000 (7,000) and suspended jail terms for corruption.

More than 20 politicians altogether have been accused of colluding with travel agents to inflate the price of their travel to pay for luxury extras.

The anti-corruption Scorpions police unit say they falsified claims of up to $3m in travel expenses.

The remaining defendants are expected to stand trial later in the year.

Most are expected to avoid jail terms.

'Fair and just'

The BBC's Mohammed Allie in Cape Town says the group does not include any high-profile politicians.

The ANC hopes that this whole process should serve as a valuable lesson that will continue to strengthen our democracy
ANC statement

The five sentenced on Friday, named as Rhoda Joemat, Pamela Mnandi, Mavis Magazi, Tseko Taabe and Mildred Mpaka, all pleaded guilty to the charges.

"I am satisfied that the sentence is a fair and just sentence, and the accused is therefore convicted of fraud," magistrate JC Vermeulen told each MP in turn.

The five have so far not been removed from their seats, but the ANC said it "noted with seriousness" the convictions and would institute disciplinary proceedings against the MPs.

"The ANC also hopes that this whole process should serve as a valuable lesson that will continue to strengthen our democracy," it said in a statement.

Politicians regularly have to travel from their constituencies throughout the country to parliament in Cape Town.

For this they are given travel vouchers for economy class flights.

But it is alleged that these travel arrangements were abused, with politicians using the vouchers for example to fly friends and relatives around South Africa.

The ANC previously clashed with the Scorpions over corruption allegations made against Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

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