Municipality meeting finally takes place after angry walkout
AFTER two failed attempts the George’s Eden District Municipality has finally held its last council meeting of the year.
This follows chaos last Friday when the DA-ID coalition stormed out of the meeting over plans to take disciplinary action against three DA councillors accused of bribery.
The coalition walked out after trying to insist that the agenda item relating to the setting up of a disciplinary committee be scrapped.
Councillors Patrick Murray, Henry McCombi and Johan Koegelenberg are accused of using a middle man, a municipal official, to pay an opposition councillor R20 000 to vote for the DA.
It is alleged that during the mayoral elections in July last year they tried to persuade Anthony Ewarts, a member of the ANC and now deputy mayor of the municipality, to vote for the DA mayoral candidate.
The middle man, municipal worker Deon Nomdoe, was found guilty in the George regional court of corruption and bribery after a criminal charge was laid by Ewarts.
Nomdoe received a suspended sentence. An internal disciplinary hearing found him guilty and he was moved to a different department.
Last week’s council meeting failed to go ahead after the coalition walked out as there was no longer a quorum.
Councillor Murray denied that he or his colleagues had tried to bribe anyone.
The walkout had happened because they wanted to ensure that the composition of the disciplinary hearing was fair.
“We had to flex our muscles on this, or we would have set up a kangaroo court.
“But the ANC finally got off their high horse and agreed that the four-strong panel would consist of an ANC, DA, ID and the Independent Civic Organisation of SA (Icosa) member.”
Murray described the charges against them as “trumped-up”.
“The early mudslinging appears to be the ANC gearing up for next year’s local government elections.
“Why would anyone try and bribe a deputy mayor if he makes double that money a month, just working in the municipality?”
Last Friday’s council meeting was scheduled to reconvene on Monday, but the DA coalition members did not arrive.
Sources say the DA and ID councillors were in the municipal buildings but were in discussions with the ANC about the composition of the disciplinary committee.
A spokesman for the municipality confirmed that the council meeting finally took place on Wednesday and a disciplinary committee was appointed to investigate the charges of corruption and fraud against the three DA councillors.
“The tribunal will now conduct an investigation and will report back to council at a later date. They will be acting in terms of the Code of Conduct for Councillors as well as the rules of order which govern councillors,” said spokesman Kelvin Vollenhoven.
Meanwhile last week the acting municipal manager of the Eden District Municipality, Morné Hoogbaard, confirmed to Weekend Argus that he had laid criminal charges against the three DA councillors for alleged bribery.
The council is currently in recess and the disciplinary hearing is expected to be held early next year.
FINGERED: Councillor Henry McCombi
SPOTLIGHT: Councillor Johan Koegelenberg
ACCUSED: Councillor Patrick Murray