‘Missing’ R5m: mayor on special leave

2013-10-23 14:45

The mayor of embattled Eastern Cape Ingquza Hill Local Municipality, Pat Mdingi, has been placed on special leave following allegations that R5 million meant for hawkers’ stalls had been stolen.

This comes after hawkers in Lusikisiki brought the small Eastern Pondoland town under the Ingquza Hill municipality to a complete standstill two weeks ago amid plans by Mdingi to move them away from the CBD.

The hawkers engaged in violent protests for two weeks, forcing the ANC provincial leadership to intervene.

The hawkers told ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane, who came to listen to their grievances two weeks ago in Lusikisiki that Mdingi had stolen R5 million, which was meant to develop stalls for them as hawkers.

Mdingi, in an exclusive interview with City Press at the time, denied the allegations and accused his predecessor, William Ngozi, of being behind a third force to boot him out of the municipality.

Ngozi denied the claims.

Today, Mabuyane told City Press that a decision was taken that Mdingi should go on leave while an investigation is under way.

“We visited the municipality on Tuesday (yesterday) to report back to the hawkers as promised. We decided they should continue trading in the CBD. As for the mayor, he will be on leave for at least a month while we collect further information about the R5 million issue,” Mabuyane said.

He said they were also awaiting a report from Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who had earlier conducted an investigation into that municipality.

“Once we have all the relevant information to our disposal, we will then be in a position to make a determination on what happens next,” Mabuyane said.

Mdingi could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mabuyane said that in the meantime, a joint task team had been set up to deal with the problems facing Lusikisiki and the entire area of Ingquza Hill.

“We have asked the provincial government together with the OR Tambo district municipality in addressing the problems faced by this municipality, in terms of developing proper stalls for the hawkers and to bring in all the intervention that is needed,” Mabuyane said.

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