Sutcliffe claims millions

2012-06-23 00:00

FORMER eThekwini city manager Mike Sutcliffe is an “old man” trying to protect his reputation, said Durban- based political analyst Nhlanhla Mtaka.

This after Sutcliffe said yesterday that he was suing his successor, S’bu Sithole, and claiming “significant damages” — reported to be around R8 million — for defamation. He is also demanding an “unqualified apology”.

Sutcliffe said Sithole had defamed him through a recent announcement in the media.

Sithole had stated that the city would be taking legal action against Sutcliffe to recover R1,1 million in money lost due to his alleged failure to report fraud and corruption while heading the municipality.

He said criminal charges would also be considered.

Mtaka told Weekend Witness that it would prove nearly impossible for Sutcliffe to find employment if he failed to clear his name.

Sithole’s announcement was based on a yet-to-be-released report by auditor Zodwa Manase, which allegedly fingered Sutcliffe and others for maladministration.

Mtaka said: “He has only one thing, which is his reputation, and he will want to protect it. One would expect him to go all out in protecting that reputation.”

He said Sithole’s responsibility as the new municipal manager was to implement the recommendation of the report.

“If he had to recover finances, he will do that … Sutcliffe has the right to question the report,” he said.

Sutcliffe disputed the findings of the report, stating: “Not only were the Manase findings with respect to there being a loss incorrect, but the city manager far exceeded any authority he had and made claims in the media that council has mandated him to lay criminal charges against me and claim monies back from me.”

“I am truly saddened at the turn of events this process has taken.”

Sutcliffe said the report only provided Manase’s interpretations on matters which had been dealt with by him and his officials.

“The Manase report and other ‘investigative’ processes have simply been manipulated into a witch-hunt against certain individuals.”

He said the report did not contain a recommendation that he should be prosecuted. Nor did it suggest or advocate that the money that was allegedly lost to the municipality should be recovered from him personally.

“If we had been asked to deal with such claims, we would have provided evidence that shows that there was no such loss to the city, and that there was no need to report this matter.”

The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs said it had noted the statements made by Sutcliffe in relation to the investigation. “We are studying the context in which the statement is made in order to consider its implications,” said spokesperson Lennox Mabaso.

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