KZN acts on fraud, R8m recovered
Pietermaritzburg - Some R8.7m stolen by crooked KwaZulu-Natal municipal officials and councillors has been recovered, the provincial co-operative governance department said on Wednesday.
“We have managed to recover R8.7m which was siphoned through corrupt and fraudulent practices and reckless management,” said MEC Nomusa Dube as she delivered her budget speech in Pietermaritzburg.
She said the money had been recovered from senior municipal officials in 13 municipalities and the department had instituted criminal charges against 28 officials.
It was believed that more than R50m had been embezzled by municipal officials and Dube vowed to recover the money.
On Tuesday, KwaZulu-Natal finance MEC Ina Cronje said her department was investigating 25 fraud and corruption cases involving more than R700m.
Dube said she was unable to provide more details on the charges against the officials and the councillors.
She said her department had recovered R2.6m in Umkhanyakude Municipality.
Just over R1m had been recovered from the officials in Impendle Municipality and R521 506 in the Ilembe Municipality.
Processes were also underway to recover R2.1m from Umsunduzi Municipality officials.
“In addition to the recovery process, criminal action is also being pursued against municipal officials and such cases have been lodged in courts,” she said.
The Uthukela Municipality chief financial officer faced charges of theft, she said.
In Mkhambathini, three officials, a councillor and a manager were suspended on charges of fraud and had resigned prior to the disciplinary hearing.
Dube said her department had decided to freeze the pensions of officials who resigned immediately after disciplinary action was instituted against them.
She said her department had taken action against crooked officials because they were determined to promote clean governance in municipalities.
“The message is clear. Surrender criminal, you are surrounded”, she said.Appointed administrators
She said four municipalities were under administration as the department had appointed administrators after they failed to control their finances.
This included the Umsunduzi Municipality incorporating the city of Pietermaritzburg. The municipality’s mayor, deputy mayor and the speaker were recalled by the African National Congress after it emerged the municipality was in serious financial difficulty.
Dube was happy with the progress that the municipality had made since the administrator was appointed.
“We are making progress. We have not turned the corner yet. What makes us happy is the commitment that we have seen from different political parties and the unions,” she said.
However, she added there was still a long way to go before problems were sorted out in the Umsunduzi Municipality.