Forensic probes: cops called in

2011-07-01 00:00

MORE than R100 million is involved in forensic investigations undertaken by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in four municipalities — Msunduzi, Indaka, Okhahlamba and uMhlabuyalingana — which were put under provincial administration last year.

MEC Nomusa Dube said this at a Durban press conference yesterday where she announced that intervention at uMhlabuyalingana Municipality is being terminated and being extended in the other three municipalities.

Dube said most of the forensic investigations in these municipalities have been completed and they are in the process of implementing recommendations and meeting top police to press charges against the officials implicated, while internal disciplinary processes are being under way where it they have been found necessary.

“Despite instituting processes to recover money, we are meeting with [police] to ensure that people implicated in fraud and corruption are put behind the bars as we want to send a clear message to would-be criminals that they will be criminally charged on top of paying what they stole from municipalities.

“After completing the forensic investigations, now we don’t wait for municipalities to charge the concerned officials, but we lay criminal charges with the police as well. There are clear charges of maladministration and fraud that we are investigating,” Dube said.

Commenting on the extension of the intervention programme in the three municipalities, Dube said the reason is that the provincial government wants to leave them in a state to be able to operate normally, “as we don’t want them to return to a state whereby we will be required to intervene again”.

None of the three municipalities has a municipal manager or senior officials who are crucial in ensuring that operations are kept to order, such as internal auditors and chief financial officers.

Dube declared that the interventions have managed to turn around the fortunes of these municipalities. Most of them have a positive cash flow and are able to discharge their mandates and comply with all statutory requirements, and the fundamentals are in place to effect good governance as per the turnaround strategy.

She said the provincial cabinet resolved to extend the intervention in Indaka because of the municipality’s failure, neglect or refusal to adhere to and implement the controls and measures that have been put in place.

“A fraud prevention plan and anti-corruption strategy have not been developed and approved. The municipality lacks the capacity to sustain any progress with regard to the intervention and to implement the recovery plan in full.”

Among reasons for the extension in Okhahlamba are the vacancies for key positions, a lack of senior management capacity and implmentation of a forensic investigation.

In uMhlabuyalingana all the targets have been met except the review and adoption of a delegation framework and a workshop on monitoring and evaluation of systems.

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