Who killed Councillor Phakoe?

2010-10-24 08:45

When ANC councillor and unionist Moss Phakoe dug up evidence showing multimillion-rand fraud in North West’s drought-relief projects, he may have signed his own death warrant.

A few days later, on the evening of March 13 last year, his body was found slumped over the steering wheel of his car with two bullet wounds.

A recent forensic report mentions the names of more than 10 businessmen and Rustenburg politicians as “key figures” in the murder.

He had just returned to his Rustenburg home after putting up ANC posters for the national election. The killers stole nothing from him.

Phakoe, a councillor in the Rustenburg local municipality, became the latest whistleblower to pay the highest price for unearthing corruption, fraud, nepotism and mismanagement. His death sparked a nationwide outcry, and politicians and police vowed to nail the killers.

New evidence suggests that Phakoe could have been killed because of what he knew about ­rampant corruption in the Bojanala district ­municipality, which is made up of the towns of Rustenburg and Brits.

City Press has obtained a secret report on the death of Phakoe which was handed to North West premier Maureen Modiselle last month. In July Modiselle appointed investigators to probe Phakoe’s death and corruption in the province.

On the evening of his murder Phakoe had a 300-page forensic report in his possession ­detailing widespread corruption and fraud in the Madibeng/Brits municipality.

He also had evidence of construction companies and local politicians defrauding a drought- relief fund of about R33?million.

The report by forensic investigators Intercol International Consultants to Modiselle contends that Phakoe was murdered because he blew the whistle on “fraud and theft in the so-called drought-relief projects”.

Those involved in the corruption knew that he had “blown the whistle”, the report says.

It says ­although R33?million was allocated for drought relief, none of the money reached the communities in need. Instead it was siphoned off through companies.

Most of the fraud was committed between 2006 and 2008 and the final report was handed to the council last year.

Phakoe got hold of both the report and the drought-relief documents and handed them to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka just days before he was murdered. Shiceka said he gave the documents to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

Phakoe’s brother, Lucas, said he told him ­before his death that he was looking for a “certain document” to prove fraud.

“Moss said he was going to stop corruption and that he was going to give it to the minister.

“He made copies and spoke with the minister for a very long time. Then he was shot dead. It’s because of those documents,” said Lucas.

At Phakoe’s funeral, then North West premier Edna Molewa said Phakoe’s death was a “tragic loss of a loyal servant” of the people of North West. On her way home, her car was shot at.

Three Rustenburg councillors who had ­supplied information to Phakoe went into hiding after his death because they feared for their lives.

There was also an alleged attempt on the life of Bojanala district municipality executive mayor Ray Motsepe, whom Phakoe had confided in.

Motsepe was on his way home after meeting Phakoe when neighbours saw three men waiting for him at his house. Motsepe was warned and slept somewhere else that night.

Motsepe refused to confirm the incident, but said that the “same environment” existed in the province today as at the time of Phakoe’s murder.

Since Phakoe’s death, more than 30 cases of fraud and corruption in the Madibeng municipality have been handed to the police’s Priority Crime Investigation Directorate.

Former Madibeng municipal manager Philemon “Mr Cash” Mapulane was suspended last October, pending a fraud investigation against him.

He was arrested and charged with fraud and corruption in August for allegedly receiving bribes for tenders worth R100?million in the Madibeng municipality.

Other Madibeng officials have been arrested and charged, and no fewer than 28 cases of fraud and theft involving amounts ranging from R61?000 to R30?million are being investigated.

Modiselle’s spokesperson, Matshube Mfoloe, said he had no information on the premier’s ­investigation into Phakoe’s death and therefore could not make an “informed comment”.

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