Free State council members to be probed

2013-04-10 17:03
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Sasolburg protests start again

Protests in Zamdela, Sasolburg, have flared up again as residents protest municipal demarcation plans and barricaded roads. See all the pictures.

Johannesburg - Members of the Metsimaholo council in the Free State are to be investigated following claims of corruption and wasteful expenditure, speaker Sello Matena said on Wednesday.

He said he and Mayor Brutus Mahlaku would also be investigated by a committee set up by the council for this purpose.

Matena was speaking after hundreds of disgruntled residents of Zamdela, outside Sasolburg, in the Free State, marched to the municipal buildings.

They delivered a memorandum demanding that they step down within seven days. The residents accused Matena and Mahlaku of corruption.

Mahlaku allegedly spent R4m on personal security, and Matena allegedly used a council credit card to pay for liquor.

Matena said this was the first he had heard of the allegations against him.

"The investigation will be done. I've not done anything wrong."

He said residents' anger at the cancellation of a Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) meeting was valid.

"That process is run by [the] demarcation board. I'm still waiting for the reason [why it was cancelled]."

The MDB had been scheduled to hold a public meeting in Sasolburg at 10:00 on Wednesday.

The board would have met the community to discuss and give an update on a proposed merger of the Metsimaholo municipality in Sasolburg with the Ngwathe municipality in Parys.

Violent protests

In January, four people were killed, several injured and hundreds arrested during violent protests against the proposed merger.

Several cars were set alight and government buildings damaged in Zamdela.

Chairperson of the Metsimaholo Concerned Residents Committee, Lucky Malebo, was upset on Wednesday over the postponement.

"[The board] got a letter from the premier's office that they had to postpone the meeting," he said.

"This tells us that we cannot even trust the MDB. It is being influenced by [Free State Premier Ace Magashule]."

ANC provincial executive committee member Mpho Ramakasta said Magashule should not have interfered.

"Magashule has taken the law unto himself. He must stop interfering."

He said the independence of statutory bodies needed to be respected.

"We all want this process to be open, fair and transparent. Our advice to those interfering is to back off."

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  protests  |  corruption

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