More arrests loom in PMB

2008-04-15 00:00

More arrests are expected in the corruption and money laundering case involving KZN businessman Lucky Moloi, Msunduzi councillors Themba Zungu and Alpha Shelembe and property agent Neville Watts.

The case involves a property bought by the uMgungundlovu District Municipality at 176 Langalibalele (Longmarket) Street in which the accused are alleged to have colluded to inflate the price so they could get kickbacks.

Scorpions spokesman Tlali Tlali confirmed yesterday that the investigative team are confident more arrests will be made soon.

He said the Scorpions received information and initiated the investigation in February, culminating in Friday’s court appearance of the politicians and the businessmen.

Meanwhile, the DA has called for district Mayor Bongi Sithole to step aside from her post until the allegations surrounding her part in the inflating of a property price are resolved.

Rodger Ashe, DA caucus leader at uMgungundlovu, said they are "mystified" as to why Sithole has not yet been charged, despite being mentioned in the charge sheet.

The papers alleged that the mayor and Moloi met with the property owner to negotiate inflating the price.

Ashe also said the DA wants clarity from council regarding funds granted to the National African Federated chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) via Moloi.

According to a council decision based on a report by the MEC for Local Government in August last year, Moloi was supposed to have accounted for all funds that had already been spent, and was to return any unused funds to the district.

"I have seen no report from council that suggests that that has happened," said Ashe.

Attempts to reach Sithole or her deputy Aubrey Lukhele for comment were unsuccessful.

The IFP’s Patrick Bhengu told The Witness that they welcome the Scorpions investigations and hope that in time they will "reveal everything that has been hidden for a long time".

He said they want to see a full report on the allegations surrounding the property deal to see if it implicates the mayor, and if it does, they will ask her to "come clean".

Bill Lambert, leader of the DA caucus in the Msunduzi Municipality, also believes the councillors who have been charged should step aside until the investigation has been completed, "particularly as they are both in senior ANC leadership positions".

While the rest of the accused are public figures, Watts is less well known. He was in the media spotlight in March 2006 when he brought a successful high court interdict stopping the Msunduzi Municipality from awarding a multi-million rand tender for the development of the city’s former caravan park.

Watts brought the application on behalf of Busicor 121 CC of Durban on the basis that the advert publicising the tender was irregular and not compliant with the municipality’s supply chain management policy.

The tender was not re-advertised and the caravan park became a derelict and overgrown city eyesore.

The municipality recently announced that it has finalised its land disposal policy and that the development of the caravan park, along with several vacant properties throughout the city, will be coming up for discussion and approval by council.

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