City’s credit controller suspected of fraud

2011-03-15 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality credit control manager Ajay Beharie has been suspended following allegations of fraud and corruption.

The suspension of Beharie, who was a member the Operation Pitbull campaign that went after businesses stealing electricity and water from the municipality, has been met with shock.

It has been alleged that he wrote off electricity and water debts owed to the municipality by certain city businesses and hotels.

Beharie was suspended on Thursday last week.

In a statement yesterday, municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said Beharie had been suspended with immediate effect as a precaution, following allegations of fraud and corruption, and of bad debt or irregular write-offs of rates and service charges.

Zuma appealed to staff and businesses directly or indirectly affected by such irregular write-offs to come forward with information.

“In addition to this, staff who are implicated are also being closely monitored.

“These matters are receiving attention of the law enforcement agencies as well,” said Zuma.

He asked municipal staff to co-operate as soon as possible and said they should not fear victimisation.

Zuma added that Operation Pitbull, which has netted over R20 million for the municipality, will be audited.

“We are in the process of auditing Operation Pitbull activities due to allegations that have been brought to our attention.

“There will be no protection of wrongdoers by the provincial intervention team. We refute such rumours with contempt, and wish to emphasise that there will be no such protection of wrongdoers.”

Beharie’s appointment at the municipality was controversial.

He arrived as a temporary employee and sources allege that, besides helping to move furniture, he initially did very little.

The next minute, they said, he was made a permanent employee and shortly thereafter given the position of credit controller.

The appointment was halted following protests by staff in the credit control section who threatened to go on strike.

Beharie stayed on in an acting position and, when the heat died down, he was quietly made credit controller.

Beharie’s house was petrol bombed by unknown assailants in June 2009. At the time he said the incident could be related to his job, but he declined to elaborate.

Beharie yesterday denied any wrongdoing on his part. He said he was suspended for having written off four accounts, one of which he said he was told to write off by the council’s legal division.

The other write-offs were based on a council resolution instructing that they should be written off.

Beharie said he had written to new city administrator, Sibusiso Sithole, and acting municipal manager Thokozani Maseko to explain this.

He said he challenged Sithole and Maseko to ask his colleagues and superiors whether he had committed any fraud.

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