Msunduzi’s ‘missing’ R70 million assets shock
THE Msunduzi Municipality is unable to properly account for close to R70 million worth of movable council assets including five guns worth half a million rand.
The annual movable assets verification process began on February 1 and concluded on June 30 this year. The report was tabled before exco members recently.
The verification process included a full physical asset verification of all movable assets at all locations within the municipality.
According to the asset report the municipality had a total of 40 183 assets, of which 32 469 had been verified and 7 714 could not be verified.
The report said the process could not verify about R68.8m worth of assets. These had a value of R149.3m before depreciation of R80.5m.
Among the assets that cannot be explained are five firearms valued at R494 000, air conditioning equipment valued at R2.9m, 757 cabinets and cupboards worth around R500 000, and 1 602 chairs valued at around R500 000.
Also five fire engines worth R700 000, fire equipment worth R521 000, and 327 lawnmowers worth R450 000.
Opposition parties have demanded municipal officials be held accountable for the assets.
DA councillor Jerome Majola said: “It cannot be that assets worth close to R70m disappear in one year and we get such an insufficient report. We will demand a comprehensive report detailing where the assets are and whether criminal charges have been laid.”
Majola said the possibility of fraud and corruption had to be considered. “How else can you explain that an asset as big as a car cannot be verified?”
Majola said he was concerned about the guns. “We are told the whereabouts of five guns cannot be verified – it would have been better if it was stated clearly that those guns were taken for ballistic tests or are exhibits in court.
“We are living in dangerous times in KZN where councillors are being killed, so it is unacceptable that sensitive assets like a gun cannot be verified.”
Majola also questioned the value of the guns, saying he had checked but could not find guns that could cost more than R100 000 each. IFP councillor Thinasonke Ntombela said the value of the missing assets was “quite high and frightening”.
“The issue of the guns is especially concerning,” he said.
Community Services manager Boniwe Zulu told exco members some of the guns could be with the SAPS for ballistic testing. “These guns cost this much because these are not 9mms,” she said.
The report said poor internal control with respect to asset management was the main contributing factor to the problem.
The verification process identified a number of risks, including that some departments had been acquiring assets without completing asset acquisition forms, and acquiring assets from operating budgets and not safeguarding assets allocated to them.
No procedures were being followed regarding the movement or disposal of assets.
Some staff members had disrespected the verification process by locking their offices, although they had been told that there would be a verification process taking place, and electronic equipment like laptops had therefore not been made available.
Staff had also moved some assets around during the verification process without notifying the asset control team. Furniture and office equipment such as chairs, computers and brush cutters constituted the majority of missing assets.