Disgraced metro talks bling TVs, cars, planes

2014-06-29 17:45
Sindiswa Gomba. (City Press)

Sindiswa Gomba. (City Press)

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Johannesburg - It was business as usual at the Buffalo City metro council chambers this week as councillors discussed their pensions, the use of plasma screen TVs, which category of cars they could hire and whether or not to fly business class, City Press reports.

On Wednesday, two days after the city’s entire leadership – including Mayor Zukiswa Ncitha and her deputy Temba Tinta, council speaker Luleka Simon-Ndzele, and senior councillor Sindiswa Gomba – appeared at the East London Magistrates’ Court on charges of money laundering and fraud, the council seemed unfazed.

The Buffalo City Municipality’s top brass is linked to the missing R6m, which was supposed to have been spent on memorial events for the late former president Nelson Mandela.

MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Fikile Xasa told City Press that government and the ANC had been embarrassed by the scandal.

“I am still to hear of any [other] municipality in the country where almost the entire leadership faces such serious charges. This does not reflect well.”

Also at the centre of the scandal is ANC regional secretary Pumlani Mkolo, director in the office of the mayor, Ondela Mahlangu, local business people Viwe Vazi and Deon Fanoe, and Joburg-based lawyer Zintle Nkuhlu.

Ncitha, Mkolo, Tinta, Simon-Ndzele and Gomba handed themselves to the Hawks on Monday and briefly appeared in court before being released on R10 000 bail.

Fanoe and Nkuhlu appeared in the same court on Wednesday and face the same charges. They will all reappear in court on 1 September.

During Wednesday’s council sitting, councillors spent the entire day discussing luxuries and taking a recess in July.

The scandal was only mentioned when Simon-Ndzele read a statement on behalf of her co-accused, and called on all to respect the judicial processes under way.

“The processes of courts and the investigations must be respected irrespective of who is involved,” she said.

In an interview on Friday, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, the local government MEC when the matter was first reported on by the Daily Dispatch, said the ANC was appealing to the good conscience of those implicated to voluntarily “step aside” or take leave while the matter was being investigated, in accordance with a resolution taken at the ANC’s 2012 elective conference in Mangaung.

“The ANC will request the leaders to step aside if they fail to heed the call,” he said. An integrity commission will look at each individual’s matter on its own merits.

“We can’t force them, but the integrity commission will deal with the matter and advise the organisation. I have not heard of any of them taking leave and they were in council as deployees in their respective positions,” he said.

In his state of the province address on Friday, Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle said his cabinet would introduce new measures to combat fraud and corruption in government institutions.

“These will include ensuring that all public office bearers and government officials facing serious fraud and corruption charges are relieved of their duties until finalisation of the investigations,” he said.

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