The Lowvelder

Mpumalanga Cogta head back in court in October

- Chelsea Pieterse

MBOMBELA - While the case against Mpumalanga’s head of co-operate governance and traditiona­l affairs (Cogta), Samkelo Ngubane, continues, the department said it is still unsure why he was dragged to court in the first place.

Ngubane was arrested by the Mpumalanga Directorat­e for Priority Crime Investigat­ion (Hawks) on June 6 on charges relating to the contravent­ion of the Public Finance Management Act. He appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court that same day and was released on R10 000 bail.

He appeared in court again on Friday. The matter was postponed to October 17 in the Nelspruit Regional Court 4.

Ngubane was an additional suspect in a matter in which Raymond Manzini (45), the deputy director of disaster management under Cogta, his brother Chris Manzini (33), Moses Ndlovu (61) and a company had been charged for fraud and contravent­ion of the Public Finance Management Act in May.

According to a statement by the special investigat­ing unit’s (SIU) Kaizer Kganyagowe made on June 8, the arrests followed an intensive SIU investigat­ion in the Cogta department, which found that the company was allegedly solely requested to quote for the supply and delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) in March 2020. However, after the PPE contract was awarded, Ndlovu allegedly approached Chris to take over the purchase without the department’s approval.

The statement alleged that Chris then approached Raymond to provide funding for the PPE. Raymond allegedly purchased PPE items from companies registered to do business with the government, and resold the items to the department at inflated prices.The company allegedly handed an invoice to Raymond, the financial provider, for the department for payment, and immediatel­y after it was received, a significan­t sum of money was allegedly transferre­d to Raymond’s bank account.

The Mpumalanga Cogta spokespers­on, Lindiwe Msibi, said Ngubane is still the

Cogta department’s head, and that he is at work. “There is nothing tangible that points to any prima face evidence against him that may warrant a suspension. Nothing in the SIU report fingers Ngubane for any wrongdoing.”

She said the SIU fingers one official, and all necessary disciplina­ry steps were carried out by the accounting officer, and a sanction was implemente­d.

Msibi said there were no losses suffered by the department, neither was there any contravent­ion by the accounting officer. “The matter was instead allegation­s of irregular conduct by said official outside of the office pertaining to the PPE contract.”

Msibi said Ngubane “had elaboratel­y responded to a letter by the Mpumalanga premier as to why a precaution­ary suspension should not be effected” and that a letter from the National Prosecutin­g Authority was also provided to the premier in this regard.

“It is still to be told as yet why the HOD was dragged into court, as no issues of fraud, corruption or gratificat­ion was ever raised in court. Not even the report of Auditor-General points to any wrongdoing by the accounting officer.

“However, we shall monitor the developmen­ts of this case closely, which in our view was misplaced. Should any court decision prove us otherwise, then surely drastic steps shall be taken against the HOD.

“The stance from Cogta is that nothing in the law indicates any contravent­ion or violation by the HOD, and he stands innocent until his guilt can be proven.”

‘We shall monitor the developmen­ts of this case closely, which in our view was misplaced’

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