Matjhabeng footing bill

2015-05-13 06:00
PICTURED are the co-accused Dr Benny Malakoane (MEC for Health) and Mathabo Leeto (MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture). 

Teboho Setana

PICTURED are the co-accused Dr Benny Malakoane (MEC for Health) and Mathabo Leeto (MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture). Photo: Teboho Setana

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THE cash-strapped Matjhabeng Local Municipality is paying the legal costs of two Free State MECs, who are on trial for alleged abuse of public funds.

This was revealed in a response to a written answer to a question by the DA to Olly Mlamleli, MEC of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Health MEC, Benny Malakoane, and Sport, Arts and Culture MEC, Mathabo Leeto, are on trial for their alleged involvement in a multi-million rand fraud and racketeering ring, irregular tender processes and abuse of public funds.

Malakoane served as Matjhabeng’s municipal manager and Leeto was the mayor at the time of the alleged infringements.

Mlamleli could not disclose the amounts involved in the legal assistance since this matter is still before the court.

Malakoane claimed in a written reply that his legal matters were private and therefore he was footing his own bills.

According to Leeto, her department was not responsible for the payment of any legal fees in this matter.

According to David van Vuuren, DA chief whip in the Free State legislature, Matjhabeng is technically bankrupt.

The municipality has never received a clean audit since its inception and has received a disclaimer of opinion and adverse findings consecutively for at least the last five financial years.

In addition, the municipality owes Eskom almost R600 million and Sedibeng Water almost R1,1 billion in debt.) In 2013 Vista, sister publication of Express reported that Leeto was arrested on fraud charges relating to the R13 million tender awarded to Gestetner, a telecommunications company. Leeto appeared in the Welkom Magistrate’s Court and was released on R10 000 bail.

Vista reported at the time that Malakoane (the then municipal manager of Matjha-beng), was facing the same charges as Leeto.

At the time two municipal officers, LB de Bruyn (then acting financial officer) and his personal assistant, Leon Nel, were each released on R20 000 bail. Also arrested at the time were three company directors – Hendrik Burger (CEO of Gestetner Maluti), Rudolf Coetze (assis-tant director of Gestetner Maluti) and Oupa Molete of Pole Ads

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