Alleged sodomy, shots in the face, but who’s footing the bill?

2010-04-02 08:40

A year after a former political advisor to the Plettenberg Bay

mayor was seconded to assist a dysfunctional council in the North West province,

the Bitou municipality is refusing to say who is covering the cost.


The Democratic Alliance (DA) opposition believes that Bitou’s

ratepayers are footing the monthly bill of at least R38?000 being racked up by

Kenny Leluma - but say they have been unable to access the relevant financial

information from the ANC-run council in Bitou.


Now Donald Grant, who is the DA’s Bitou constituency head, says he

will ask Western Cape finance MEC Alan Winde to bring the matter before the

standing committee on public accounts (Scopa).


Grant, the Western Cape’s Education MEC, said in a statement: “I

have reason to believe that the cost relating to travelling, accommodation and

time spent on this arrangement has been incurred unlawfully and

irregularly.”


He said Leluma was racking up an estimated monthly cost of R38?000,

made up of car hire at R25?000, accommodation at R9?000 and monthly travel back

to Bitou at R4?000.


“Unanswered questions relate to approval of this arrangement and

compliance with the Municipal Finance Management Act as well as the monetary

value involved.”


On Wednesday, Grant said he had become involved in the matter in

his role as Bitou’s constituency head, after the local DA councillors have been

unable to get any answers on the issue from the ANC-run council.


He said that all items of a budgetary and financial nature needed

to be put before council for approval, but this had not been done.


“I have no option but to refer this matter to the standing

committee for local government for interrogation and investigation,” said Grant,

who also said he would ask Anton Bredell, the Western Cape’s MEC for Local

Government and Development Planning, to investigate the matter.


Bitou municipal manager Lonwabo Ngoqo said Leluma’s secondment to

Ventersdorp municipality had been initiated by the Minister of Cooperative

Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Sicelo Shiceka.


He said it had been done “as part of intergovernmental relations to

assist municipalities that perform below the baseline and need capacity

support.”


Ngoqo said there was nothing unusual about the secondment.


“This type of assistance occurs regularly throughout government

spheres in this country and is not unique to the Bitou Municipality.”


Nogoqo, who failed to answer questions about who was carrying

Leluma’s cost and why the DA was unable to obtain this information, said: “All

matters which relate to finances as a result of the seconding of Mr Leluma are

dealt with by Cogta as part of the turnaround strategy, which was approved by

both national government and endorsed by provincial government of the Western

Cape, and the Democratic Alliance subscribes to it.”


Leluma was in the spotlight earlier this year when a sexual

harassment case against himself and the Bitou Council by a former Bitou

municipal employee was dismissed by the Cape High Court.


It came after the issuing of a R32?million summons by Elmarie

Fourie for sexual harassment and unfair dismissal against the municipality and

several officials.


In her claim, Fourie accused Leluma of sexual harassment and of

sodomising her in his office eight years earlier.


The George Circuit Court ruled against the wrongful dismissal and

her case against the councillors. She then revised her claim and sued the

council and Leluma for R15.7?million for sexual harassment.


But her case fell apart after her lawyer, Johan Wagener,

accidentally shot himself in the face.


After Bitou sued Wagener’s law firm for the costs incurred in its

defence, they withdrew, citing a conflict of interest.


Costs, which could amount to R1?million according to Bitou’s legal

advisor, Hardy Mills, have since been awarded against Fourie.

 

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