Knysna-Plett Herald

Bredell probes Bitou bribery allegation­s

- Yolande Stander

PLETTENBER­G BAY - The Bitou Municipali­ty has until 1 October to respond to questions to allegation­s of interferen­ce, bribery and corruption surroundin­g the controvers­ial Qolweni housing project. Western Cape MEC for Local Government Anton Bredell has requested informatio­n from the municipali­ty about these allegation­s and the recent "irregular" appointmen­ts of senior staff. The bribery allegation­s came to light during a Western Cape High Court applicatio­n involving the project, which was at the heart of violent protest action in Plettenber­g Bay earlier this year. The court documents contained allegation­s that some of Bitou's officials demanded large bribes from contractor­s to ensure their successful bidding.

The local DA raised concerns about the allegation­s with Bredell and last week the MEC announced he had requested informatio­n from the municipali­ty. He gave the municipali­ty 30 days to respond. Constituen­cy chair for the DA in Bitou Dave Swart said over and above the bribery allegation­s, senior appointmen­ts had been made between January and June this year. These, he said, were irregular as they were not reported as required by Regulation

17 of the Regulation­s on Appointmen­t and Conditions of Employment of Senior Management.

The DA is not the only party to have demanded action in this regard. Local party Ikhwezi Political Movement (IPM) has approached the Public Prosecutor's office as well as Corruption Watch, requesting an investigat­ion into the "looting".

This came after they launched a petition, which was supported by more than a thousand concerned Bitou residents, calling on the Western Cape government to intervene in local affairs after the allegation­s of bribery and corruption surfaced.

The petition called on provincial government to not only place the municipali­ty under administra­tion, but also to suspend six top officials implicated in the housing project allegation­s.

Bredell’s spokespers­on Rowena van Wyk said should the MEC not receive a response from the municipali­ty by the date stipulated, he would assume the municipali­ty does not intend commenting on the allegation­s. “He can then proceed to objectivel­y assess the relevant informatio­n in his possession to determine whether and to what extent further steps need to be taken to investigat­e and/or address the allegation­s,” Van Wyk said. She added that after the assessment, if he believed that the municipali­ty cannot or does not fulfil a statutory obligation binding on the municipali­ty or that maladminis­tration, fraud, corruption or any other serious malpractic­e had occurred or was occurring, he could designate investigat­ors to investigat­e the matter.

 ??  ?? MEC Anton Bredell
MEC Anton Bredell

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