Maladministration found in Midvaal
Xolani Mbanjwa, City Press
Johannesburg - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has found the DA-controlled Midvaal council guilty of maladministration and improper conduct.
According to Madonsela, a house in Henley-on-Klip that belonged to a ratepayer, who was R5 000 in arrears, was later sold by DA leader Andre Odendaal, the municipality’s debt collector and lawyer, for R180 000 - this, after a company he owned had bought it for R10 000.
Madonsela found that Odendaal's sale of the Henley-on-Klip house, valued at R118 000, was unlawful as it was not done via a public auction.
She has ordered the municipality, which is also under investigation by the special investigating unit, to review all work done by Odendaal during his 29 years of service as the municipality's lawyer.
Between 2003 and 2005 Odendaal was responsible for the transfer of 85 similar properties but none of them were sold through auction as required.
Madonsela said the management and sale of the properties of ratepayers who were in arrears contravened the Municipal Finance Management Act.
The DA had also failed to foresee a conflict of interest in the appointment of Odendaal as the council's debt collector, attorney and the DA's constituency chair in 2007.
Madonsela said it was unfair that the municipality pursued the debt owed by the Henley-on-Klip property owner while it wrote off a debt of R869 261 owed to it by a pre-paid electricity vendor contracted to the council.
"The municipality gave the vendor favourable treatment despite owing a huge sum of money yet the ratepayer owed the council only R5 000," said Madonsela.
Madonsela has instructed the council to institute a forensic investigation into all the properties sold by Odendaal and the reason why the municipality did not take disciplinary steps against its own officials after it was instructed to do so, following an internal audit.
In a statement, the DA welcomed the finalisation of Madonsela’s report and noted "that the public protector could find no evidence of fraud or corruption".