Former mayor Faku faces fraud charges
LOCALS came out in their droves yesterday despite heavy rain to support former Buffalo City mayor, Zukisa Faku, who was formally charged in the East London Magistrate’s Court with fraud.
Court orderlies were forced to clear the courtroom as supporters blocked the doors and filled up the gallery.
Prosecuting advocate Elna Smit called a calm looking Faku to the front of the court and magistrate Similo Jaftha formally charged her on nine counts of fraud.
The charges, totalling almost R15 000, date back to 2009, when Faku allegedly misused a municipal credit card during an official trip to Turkey. She has not yet been asked to plead.
Faku allegedly bought luxury items on the city’s expense account between March and May 2009, during her term as mayor.
She is alleged to have illegally purchased a leather jacket valued at about R4 000 from Elegant Leather Wear on March 17 2009. The following day she allegedly spent close to R900 at Hotic Beyoglu in Istanbul, Turkey.
Other purchases allegedly made on the city’s credit card while abroad include R4 500 from Selvs Konfeksysyon and R280 from Ismail Akkurt.
In May 2009, she allegedly went on another shopping spree in Cape Town, and spent close to R2 000 at Edgars, R800 at Spitz, and R2 500 at Sun Goddess.
She was summonsed to court by the Commercial Crimes Unit last week. She is currently out on warning.
According to the charge sheet before court, the municipality issued Standard Bank credit cards to certain senior employees. As mayor, Faku qualified as an account holder and was given a credit and petrol card on February 3 2009.
“The accused was authorised to utilise the cards for official purposes only,” the charge sheet reads.
According to the credit card user guidelines set out by BCM, purchases were not to exceed the limits of the budget, and under no circumstances be used for private purposes.
“The accused as the executive mayor was aware of the said guidelines.”
On February 24 2009 the acting chief financial officer submitted a report to council on the procedures directors must follow when using the credit card for entertainment purposes. Faku was present.
While senior BCM officials each held their own employee credit cards, all cards were consolidated into one combined account. The bank was, however, still able to supply individual statements for each official.
The matter was postponed to June 25 for the defence to obtain copies of the docket.
Meanwhile, police blocked off the street outside the courthouse yesterday morning while the newly launched group, Friends of Zukisa Faku (FOZF), protested in support of the newly elected regional ANC chairwoman.
Addressing the jovial crowd after her court appearance, Faku said that unlike some ANC leaders persecuted “by their own comrades” to the point they even left politics, “I will not succumb”.
FOZF acting spokeswoman Nomthunzi Mbiko said: “They want to put her into someb pocket … she will not be in anyone’s pocket. She will go to Mangaung with the mandate from ANC branches and not from anyone else” — asandan@ / firstname.lastname@example.org