Fraudster in legal fees scandal at municipality
A Limpopo municipality that hired a convicted fraudster is now paying the price after he allegedly helped a law firm claim R1.4 million extra for a R400 000 job.
The Greater Tubatse Municipality in Burgersfort gave Melusi Motha, a former prosecutor in the Mpumalanga town of Middelburg, a job as a labour relations officer soon after he was released on parole after serving 18 months of his five-year fraud sentence in 2008.
Motha was jailed after being convicted of fraud and forgery while he was a prosecutor at the Middelburg Magistrates’ Court.
A 2011 investigation report by the Limpopo department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs says Motha was irregularly appointed at Greater Tubatse after his release. His job was not advertised and he was soon promoted to the position of legal services manager – which he still holds – earning him R731 000 a year.
Documents reveal Motha’s unit hired a Polokwane law firm, whose name is known to City Press, to conduct a forensic investigation into three officials in 2013.
But the firm subcontracted another firm, which charged R453 720 for their forensic audit investigation.
Documents reveal the municipality then paid the law firm Motha had hired R1.4 million for the job, but the subcontracted firm was never paid and successfully sued the municipality for R614 214, plus interest.
Records of a council meeting on December 14 last year show the municipality is now applying for the court order to be rescinded.
“It is important to note that for the work amounting to R453 720, the municipality has already paid R1 462 500 and now the bank account attachment of R614 214 will bring the total cost to R2 076 714. The total fruitless expenditure, which should have been avoided, is currently R1 622 994,” the council minutes read.
They also show the matter was investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
“According to the SIU report, two officials of Greater Tubatse, the former acting municipal manager [Adelaide Monyepao] and the manager legal services [Motha], confirmed that they are happy with the fees charged by [the law firm Motha’s unit hired].”
But an invoice shows the law firm they are so happy with charged R576 000 for four hours work “perusing files”.
Motha declined to respond in detail to written questions emailed and SMSed to him.
“I have been legally advised not to comment on the allegations made against me, because there is a potential defamation case on the same allegations, of which the perpetrators are aware,” he said in an email.
Greater Tubatse municipal manager Johannes Mohlala said: “I have received your questions, but that matter is actually still sub judice and I can’t talk about it.”
A senior manager at the municipality told City Press that Motha was in line for another promotion – to the R858 000-a-year position of corporate services director.
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