Loan documents lost

2017-02-08 06:03

The Mangaung Metro Council has written off debt of R45 million, apparently because the council no longer has evidence of this debt.

Apparently the council no longer has in its possession the documents of those owing money after the now defunct Scorpions unit seized the documents in 2003.

The Scorpions, which was an investigating directorate in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), then went to investigate corruption activities within the Mangaung Metro, leading to several officials and a former mayor being arrested.

Some officials were found guilty and convicted. The Scorpions was disbanded in 2009 and was replaced with the current Hawks, a unit in the South African Police Service that reports to the Ministry of Safety and Security.

Prof. Fief van der Merwe, DA councillor, said at the council meeting his party (DA) had no choice but to vote for the write-off of R45 079 284 (1 088 accounts).

The debt was for housing sales and loans on properties that were granted to council members, officials of the municipality for 2003, direc-tors, as well as officers of the entity Centlec, the electricity supplier to areas under the jurisdiction of Mangaung, Kopanong, Naledi, Mantsopa and Mohokare municipalities.

When the Municipal Finance Management Act was introduced, such loans were banned, said Van der Merwe.

“It would be good if the report could indicate to the council what loans were for councillors and officials, and who they are.”

He said it was impossible to collect more in debt due to overseen faults to the admi-nistrative side.

On the list of the 1 088 accounts were 949 loan cases (of R39,5 million) where titles (ownership) were issued. For 660 (70%) of the loans, there were no supporting documents.

Of the other 147 accounts where titles were not given, there were no supporting documents. Van der Merwe said the ANC officials had lost or thrown it away.

“The DA finds it hard to believe that the entities that owes money cannot be identified, because some names are known.

“The thought comes to mind that the ANC may have intentionally misplaced the documents.

“The ANC officials are incompetent and do not have the ability to do the job,” said Van der Merwe.

Attie Terblanche, DA councillor, said the party was considering getting the help of the Public Protector (PP).

Johan Pretorius, DA caucus chief whip, said the misma-nagement requires further investigation.

In reaction to this, Mxolisi Siyonzana, ANC speaker, said the Scorpions had simply stormed into the Glass Palace (the municipal office building in Bloemfontein) in 2003 and seized the documents “in a less nice way”.

“The municipality went to court to try to get these documents back, but was told that the officials were just trying to cover up corruption.”

ANC councillor Olly Titi Odili, executive mayoral committee member responsible for finance, said Van der Merwe is blaming ANC officials.

“Black, white, brown and Indian officials work here. Everyone could have benefited from loans.”

She asked that Van der Merwe withdraw his racial statements, which he later did.

Dulandi Leech, DA councillor, said it was strange that some evidence of lending large sums disappeared and others are still available.

“The Public Protector should conduct an investigation.”

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