Top official in fraud probe

2015-01-15 00:00

A SENIOR manager in the KwaZulu-Natal ­Legislature Speaker’s office has been placed on ­special leave pending a forensic investigation into allegations of fraud and corruption.

Chris Mlotshwa was last seen in the legislature corridors last week Thursday, shortly before he was handed a letter informing him that he was being placed on special leave.

Nkululeko Ngcamu has taken over Mlotshwa’s duties as acting manager in the Office of the Speaker.

A letter was e-mailed on Friday to inform ­legislature members and staff of the move.

The Witness understands that an event that Mlotshwa was to host, but that never took place, is at the centre of the investigation.

Several sources alleged that Mlotshwa wrote a memorandum to supply chain manager Zethu Buthelezi on November 5, informing her that the Office of the Speaker intended hosting a clean-up campaign event at Ntuzuma G Sports Field on November 14.

In the memo, Mlotshwa recommends three companies — Emseni, Ankeli (Pty) Ltd and Courtesy Marketing — to provide services for the event.

Documents leaked to The Witness show that the three companies charged the legislature just over R1 million for the event.

Sources allege that the event did not take place, which was noted when the legislature was processing related payments.

KZN Legislature spokesperson Wonder Hlongwa said: “The decision by Mlotshwa to take special leave does not in any way insinuate that he is guilty of anything. The principle of innocence until proven otherwise applies to Mlotshwa, as it would apply to any other employee.”

Mlotshwa said he was requested to take special leave and he agreed because he had “nothing to hide”.

“I told them they can go ahead with the ­investigation. No one has ever asked me if the ­allegations are true or not, so I will reserve my ­comment for after the investigation,” he said.

Last year, the Public and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa called for Mlotshwa to be ­investigated over the allegations. Branch secretary Buyani Mdluli applauded the legislature for placing Mlotshwa on special leave, but said that other ­officials should also be investigated for approving the payments.

He said the officials should have noted that Mlotshwa was not allowed to recommend service providers.

Inkatha Freedom Party MPL Blessed Gwala said: “We are not going to tolerate civil and public ­servants who engage in corrupt deals … There is an entrenched group of officials that have for far too long had a firm grip on government tenders.”

The IFP also called for the suspension of the ­secretary of the legislature.

Democratic Alliance KZN leader Sizwe Mchunu said he was not aware that Mlotshwa had been placed on special leave.

“I find it peculiar that the Office of the Speaker did not bring this matter up with the chief whips of the various political parties,” he said, adding that he believed the office may “have been trying to sweep the matter under the carpet”.

• amanda.khoza@witness.co.za

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