Raid on uThukela council

2011-02-22 00:00

THE provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department launched a forensic investigation into the affairs of uThukela District Municipality yesterday.

This follows allegations of fraud and maladministration.

Auditing company Moloi & Kirby seized the documents under the observation of the Hawks. The same company was contracted in 2005 to undertake an investigation into the municipality.

Co-operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube said the allegations include bribery, money laundering, tender fraud and nepotism.

“We take these allegations very seriously. If anyone is found to be involved we promise ratepayers that we will be assisted by the Hawks and police to make arrests and recover public funds,” said Dube in a statement.

She said the municipality had been under surveillance for about a year before she decided to launch a full investigation.

uThukela District comprises Emnambithi/Ladysmith, Okhahlamba (Bergville), uMtshezi (Estcourt), Indaka (Ekuvukeni) and Imbabazane (Loskop) local municipalities.

uThukela Mayor Mqapheli Sithole expressed anger over the investigation, calling it a ploy by the ANC government in the province to discredit the municipality because it is led by the Inkatha Freedom Party.

“This is a witch-hunt by the ruling party to frustrate municipalities run by their political opponents. In fact we are not surprised by this because in 2005, just a few months before the 2006 local government elections, they did the same thing. They took documents dating back to 2004. Some of those documents were never returned and we had to write a letter to the then MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu, requesting those to be returned, but in vain.

“Today they want the same documents they never returned, using the same company they contracted last time which had failed to table a report on its findings.

“They found no misappropriation, yet the department never came back to the public to announce their findings and this shows that this is just a smear campaign before the elections.

“However, we shall give an unequivocal undertaking to assist and co-operate with the department,” said Sithole.

He said that in June 30, 2010, his municipality received an unqualified audit report, which is evidence enough that the current investigation is just “dirty tricks” by the ruling party.

Hawks spokesperson Colonel McIntosh Polela confirmed that they were just observers during the raid.

“The interest to us is that early last month we were investigating R3 million which was said to have gone missing, and we discovered R100 000 in cash in a house of one of the people connected to the municipality. We are investigating if the money was legitimately gained,” said Polela. He could not remember the name of the man or his connection to the municipality.

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