KZN mu­nic­i­pal­ity paid R1.3m for ‘bo­gus’ projects

R1.3 mil­lion al­legedly paid for ser­vices which were not ren­dered

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - THAMI MAGUBANE thami.magubane@inl.co.za

SEV­ERAL former em­ploy­ees of the Harry Gwala District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity ap­peared in court yes­ter­day on al­le­ga­tions of si­phon­ing more than a mil­lion rand of coun­cil funds to pay ser­vice providers for work that was not done.

About 10 people and four en­ti­ties ap­peared in the Durban Spe­cialised Com­mer­cial Crime Court.

Five were em­ployed by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, and of those only one was still in its em­ploy.

They face a string of charges in­clud­ing fraud, cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing.

They were each granted bail of be­tween R2 000 and R5 000 and are ex­pected back in court on Novem­ber 9.

Ac­cord­ing to the charge sheet, the State al­leges that be­tween De­cem­ber 2016 and Fe­bru­ary last year, the ac­cused fun­nelled about R1.3 mil­lion of coun­cil funds, as pay­ments to en­ti­ties for ten­ders for projects that were never done or ex­isted.

The en­ti­ties named in the charge sheet are Njakane Pty Ltd, Ye­muyemu Con­struc­tion Projects, Grif­fitts So­lu­tions and Wutu Trad­ing and Projects.

Vuyokazi Mfeqa, who is still em­ployed by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity as a di­rec­tor of rev­enue, is im­pli­cated in eight of the 14 counts.

It is al­leged that Mfeqa in­vited ser­vice providers to sub­mit their bids and as­sisted in the pay­ment of in­voices.

The State al­leges that she did this know­ing the ser­vice providers did not ren­der any ser­vice to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

She fur­ther so­licited money from ser­vice providers, which was to be paid into her own ac­count.

An­other main role player, ac­cord­ing to the State, was Du­misani Mzolo, who was em­ployed at the mu­nic­i­pal­ity as a project man­ager, in the in­fra­struc­ture depart­ment.

“It is al­leged that he acted with his col­leagues to award fraud­u­lent con­tracts to ser­vice providers who did not ren­der any ser­vice to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” it said.

An­other mu­nic­i­pal em­ployer charged, Ray­mond Hadebe, was an ac­qui­si­tion man­ager at the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and was re­spon­si­ble for procur­ing goods.

“It is al­leged that he as­sisted the ser­vice providers to get un­law­ful con­tracts and fur­ther as­sisted in the pay­ment of their in­voices know­ing they did not ren­der any ser­vice to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” says the charge sheet.

Also im­pli­cated are hus­band and wife, Wes­ley and Anthea Adams.

Anthea had been em­ployed as ad­min­is­tra­tion man­ager at the in­fra­struc­ture depart­ment of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“She as­sisted the ser­vice providers by pro­cess­ing all the doc­u­ments that the ser­vice providers have ren­dered ser­vice know­ing that no ser­vice was ren­dered, and so­licited money from ser­vice providers to pay into her hus­band and sis­ter’s busi­ness ac­counts,” says the charge sheet.

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, Harry Gwala District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity spokesper­son Nd­abezitha Tenza said that the projects claimed for were “ghost projects”.

“We will con­tinue to fight against cor­rup­tion where it ex­ists in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“Only one per­son re­mains in the em­ploy of the coun­cil, and we will be tak­ing ac­tion against that per­son,” he said.

ANC Re­gional spokesper­son Thabiso Zulu said they were en­cour­aged by the ar­rests and the work of the Hawks.

“The ANC Re­gional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee col­lec­tive will do ev­ery­thing in its pow­ers to sup­port law en­force­ment agen­cies in their ef­forts to root out fraud and cor­rup­tion,” said Zulu.

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