Lies led to mayor’s house deal

2010-07-06 00:00

THE decision to buy a house for the uMngeni mayor was based on a non-existent crime intelligence report.

The result was that uMngeni ratepayers ended up paying not only R1,75 million for a house to keep the mayor safe, but an additional R580 000 never reported to council.

The extra costs were for rented accommodation, paying the mayor’s electricity and telephone bills, and for bodyguards and car rental. The house saga was also allegedly veiled in a fabric of lies and half-truths.

This was some of the evidence that emerged yesterday in the commission of inquiry into allegations of fraud and corruption in the uMngeni Municipality.

The evidence was led by advocate Andre Bouwer, lead forensic investigator for the company Ubuntu, which was commissioned by former Local Government MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu.

Bouwer said mayor Edward Dladla’s house in Mpophomeni was stoned on July 17, 2006, as a result of dissatisfaction within the local community over appointments being made on the basis of job interviews that were carried out on a Saturday.

On July 18, the mayor was moved and the perpetrators were arres­ted and criminal charges were instituted.

The matter is still on the court roll.

On July 26, the council resolved to undertake an investigative analysis of the threat against the mayor and to monitor it from time to time. Bouwer said that, despite repeated requests, neither municipal manager Dumisani Vilakazi nor Dladla could provide the crime intelligence report to the investigators.

“When I asked Vilakazi, he said the information on the report was private and I should ask the mayor. When I asked Dladla, he said he never saw the report and I should ask Vilakazi, who in turn said ‘[the mayor] should give it to you; I can’t have it as it contains intimate details’,” said the investigator.

Vilakazi, who was dismissed as municipal manager and is representing himself at the commission, was not at the hearing yesterday.

Chairperson advocate Vusi Khuzwayo asked why he was not present and whether efforts had been made to inform him about the resumption of proceedings.

Commission secretary Dumisani Xaba said Vilakazi was present when the matter was adjourned and the dates for the resumption were announced. Notices were also posted at the municipality and published in the press. He also phoned Vilakazi and left a message on his voice mail.

“When I called him this morning, he said he could not attend as he was shooting to Port Shepstone. He said he had read in UmAfrica that the commission was sitting today, but he thought the article was ‘just a lie’,” Xaba said.

Bouwer also told the commission of a lack of co-operation by the municipality. He said that during the investigation, a letter of complaint, drafted by Mathew Francis and addressed to the Local Government MEC, was received from law firm Venn, Nemeth and Hart.

Francis reportedly said he was consulted by uMngeni Municipality and his clients were not satisfied that there were sufficient grounds for such an investigation, and that they would respond to requests for information only if they are subpoenaed.

Bouwer said this was a difficult and cumbersome pro­cess, but he had complied and issued subpoenas. While he had obtained affidavits from various roleplayers, officials in the municipality did not co-operate with the same wil­lingness.

Bouwer gave evidence on the acquisition of 1 Mimosa Drive in Hilton as accommodation for the mayor, as well as the municipal manager’s trip to a Springbok rugby match at Twickenham, London.

It is reported that Vilakazi accompanied Jonathan du Toit and Du Toit’s brother, Daniel, to the match, just prior to the purchase of the house from Jonathan.

Daniel is the owner of DDT Civils, which was granted multi-million rand tenders by the municipality.

UMNGENI Municipality’s chief financial officer, Bertus van der Merwe, was also implicated in yesterday’s evidence.

Asked why the municipality did not issue a tender to acquire the house, Van der Merwe allegedly told the investigators that the rental lease on the Mimosa house had expired.

It turned out there was no lease.

Bouwer also told the commission that before moving to Mimosa Drive, the mayor was staying at a house in William Younger Drive. An estate agent had told the municipality the owner was prepared to sell for R953 000, he said.

Asked whether this should have been made known to the council, Van der Merwe allegedly denied having such knowledge. When it was pointed out that there were handwritten notes on the estate agent’s letter, he allegedly acknowledged it was his writing, that he did know about the transaction and that he should have reported it to council. Transcripts of the interviews conducted formed part of documentation given to the commission.

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