SIU to probe Tubatse graft
THE alleged looting of public money at the Greater Tubatse Municipality has reached breaking point.
President Jacob Zuma signed papers this week to authorise the Special Investigating Unit to probe the rotten council.
This came a day after AuditorGeneral Kimi Makwetu delivered adverse findings on the municipality in his 2012/13 report.
Workers downed tools at the doomed Limpopo town this week, protesting to put pressure on their employer to fire certain officials they believe are corrupt.
A former employee of the council also told Sunday World that he was informed by his colleagues that bean counters from auditing firm PwC were sent to the council to check the books for traces of fraud and corruption.
This claim could not be verified by the time of publication.
All these developments come two weeks after the Hawks raided the municipality s offices, seizing documents, computers and the cellphones of some officials.
The governing party in the council, the ANC, tried to clean up the mess in June when it fired mayor Nkosi Josias Mahlake and replaced him with Ralepane Mamekoa.
Sunday World broke the story about allegations of mass looting at the municipality in April.
One of the allegations of brazen corruption concerned Tubatse s head of legal affairs, Melusi Jacob Motha. It s alleged that he was in cahoots with law firms to siphon funds from the municipal purse.
Motha, a convicted fraudster who served time in jail, allegedly used the services of his friend Mokone Simon Phambane, who would inflate his prices to cater for Motha s cut.
Both men have vehemently denied the allegations against them.
Whistle-blowers claim that in one instance Motha authorised a payment of R500 000 to pay a legal firm to transcribe records of a disciplinary hearing.
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We have seen junior lawyers here charging up to R45 000 a day. Not even senior counsel charge that much,” said a former employee.
Allegations against certain lawyers doing business with the municipality have prompted the Law Society of South Africa to launch a probe into the conduct of some of the officials.
Last week, this paper reported that the municipality had been taken to task by the Tubatse Residents Association over what it called unlawfulness and non-adherence to the statutory law
The municipality, which is also being investigated by the public protector over the allegations of corruption, including tender irregularities, now has a case to answer to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan. The minister s spokesman, Dumisa Jele, said the department was investigating the matter.
In its letter of demand to the council, the South African Municipal Workers Union listed 28 issues that it wanted to be addressed before its members go back to work. Some of its demands are:
Removal and dismissal of [Adelaide] Monyepao as the acting municipal manager, as Samwu has lost confidence in her leadership, which has created divisions and classes in the workforce.
Immediate removal/dismissal of legal manager Melusi Motha from the municipality as he is implicated in many wrong acts in the municipality and wrongfully targeted our members, yet he is an ex-convict of fraud. He has failed to [advise] the municipality several times on legal matters, which resulted [in the] municipality incurring unnecessary expenses.
Immediate investigation on the 10% demands and kickbacks by certain officials from businessmen when they tender in the municipality.
Municipal spokesman Thabiso Mokoena said: The workers are back in their respective offices and the issues have been addressed.”
Then he contradicted himself, saying: The matter has been referred to the mayor s office and a meeting has been scheduled for Monday (tomorrow) with management to address their concerns and their issues with the acting municipal manager.”
A meeting between the Tubatse Residents Association and the mayor is said to be scheduled for Tuesday.
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