Mu­nic­i­pal­ity meet­ing fi­nally takes place af­ter an­gry walk­out

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - WARDA MEYER

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.

warda.meyer@inl.co.za

FIN­GERED: Councillor Henry McCombi

SPOT­LIGHT: Councillor Johan Koege­len­berg

AC­CUSED: Councillor Pa­trick Mur­ray

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