SIU to probe Tu­batse graft

Sunday World - - News - SIXOLISIWE NDAWO

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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