Forensic investigation reveals how Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality hired litter pickers without following due process

A forensic investigation into the alleged irregular appointment of litter pickers at the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has revealed that a man who Mayor Mongameli Bobani apparently pushed to occupy the position of acting director of waste management did not follow due process when appointing litter pickers.

This was revealed in a damning report compiled by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and released in November last year.

The now-suspended acting director of waste management, Nkosinathi Nelson Dolo, who was mentioned in the report, had apparently submitted lists of litter pickers for recruitment without consulting ward councillors or communities.

READ: Hawks raid Nelson Mandela Bay municipality

According to witnesses who were interviewed by PwC, Dolo claimed that the list was from Bobani, who was the deputy executive mayor when the municipality was led by the DA's Athol Trollip.

Bobani was elected mayor in August following a motion of no confidence in Trollip that was supported by the ANC, EFF and the UDM.

Dolo was given an opportunity to act from October 14, 2016, for the period of three months to address issues of waste management, including managing the festive season waste management collection of refuse.

He was hired by Andile Tolom who was the executive director of public health at the time, after Bobani's "intervention".

But Tolom said he was never involved in the recruitment of litter pickers.

READ: Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Bobani backtracks on controversial budget remarks

Dolo's secretary, Nontando Tyakume, told PwC investigators that she received two lists of litter pickers from Dolo, who had allegedly instructed her to distribute the list to the depots.

R12.86m paid to litter pickers

However, the investigation found that the lists circulated to the depots by Tyakume did not emanate from the various ward councillors, which does not comply with the criteria set out in the council resolution.

The report compiled by PwC also reveals that litter pickers were not selected from ward councillors' offices as required.

It also revealed that workers were promised permanent employment, whereas they should have been rotated after three months.

A total of R12.86m was paid to litter pickers for the period of October 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, the report found.

"Part of the requirements was that preference should be given to unemployed females which are permanent residents of the relevant ward," the report reads.

An earlier report, which was provided to PwC, detailed alleged irregularities in litter picking and that expenditure had increased exponentially since September 2016.

It also highlighted that the increase in expenditure was due to the "drastic increase" in the number of volunteers employed via instructions of Bobani.

Annalisa Dyakala, who has been employed as an assistant manager of waste management, said in her affidavit that she had observed that there were lists of names that Dolo provided to various depots for cleaning the major routes, and that when she enquired where the lists had come from, Dolo told her that he had received these lists from Bobani.

She said an additional number of participants increased more than the initial number which was "agreed" upon.

She also said she had noticed that there would be over-expenditure and that the standard of cleanliness was not improving.

List from Bobani

Meanwhile, Tyakum also implicated Dolo, saying that she received instructions from Dolo on January 27, 2017, who gave her a list of 300 casual litter pickers. Dolo claimed he had received the list from then-deputy mayor Bobani.

She also claimed that Dolo verbally instructed her to scan the list and send it to a depot.

But, when PwC interviewed Dolo, he denied this, saying that the lists were already prepared and handed to Tyakume by Tolom.

"This explanation does, however, not align with the fact that the second list of 300 people was only issued on 27 January 2017, which was three months after Mr Dolo assumed the acting role (from October 2016)," the report reads.

According to the report, Tolom denied ever being involved with the recruitment of litter pickers or providing Tyakume with the lists.

Dyakala and Tyakume said Dolo had told them that these lists came from the office of the deputy executive mayor.

"Although these witnesses and the reports emanating from public health indicated that Mr Dolo had told them that the list were provided to him by Mr Bobani, Mr Dolo denied any knowledge of these lists or knowing their origin."

"Mr Bobani also denied that he had provided these lists to Mr Dolo. He also denied that he had been involved in the recruitment process, offered permanent employment to litter pickers, met with the Cuyler road depot toilet cleaners or being involved in the appointment of Mr Dolo as the acting director: Waste management," reads the report.

Hawk's visit mayor's office

The report found that litter pickers were not appointed in the wards where they were permanent residents or from the areas that were serviced by their depot.

"This does not comply with the criteria defined by the defined by the council resolution," it said.

The report recommended that payments made to the litter pickers who were recruited from the list circulated by Tyakume, as well as the list Buthelezi said he obtained from Dolo - which amounts to R1 170 742.50 - should be classified as irregular expenditure as defined in the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).

"As it appears that section 173(3) to the Labour has been contravened, this should be investigated by the relevant law enforcement agencies," it said.

PwC also said the report should be used in order to support any disciplinary action that may be instituted.

"Consideration should be given to the recovery of the irregular expenditure in terms section 32 (1)(c) of the MFMA, which states that any political office-bearer or official of municipality who deliberately or negligently committed, made or authorised an irregular expenditure, is liable for that expenditure."

News24 reported this week that Bobani received an unexpected visit to his office from the Hawks barely two months into his new job.

Officers from the Hawks, visited the municipal building and went to Bobani with a search warrant.

It is alleged that the Hawks are investigating the municipality's Integrated Public Transport System.

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