Allegations of conspiracy

2016-04-12 12:04
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - Suspended head of Msunduzi’s Internal Audit Unit Petrus Mahlaba believes “certain individuals” have embarked on an orchestrated plan to frustrate an ongoing investigation into fraud and corruption in the municipality.

Mahlaba says this in papers before the Pietermaritzburg high court where Msunduzi yesterday obtained an urgent court order setting aside search and seizure warrants executed by the Hawks on March 18 and ordering police to return all documents, computers, laptops and all copies and “mirror images” of stored information to Msunduzi within 24 hours.

The police consented to the order being granted.

Mahlaba, who ironically was suspended this week, is the voice in the main affidavit filed on behalf of Msunduzi for the return of the seized items.

He said the audit team had been conducting investigations into “various matters” relating to the conduct of certain officials at Msunduzi who allegedly acted fraudulently or corruptly “in concert with certain individuals” including service providers of the municipality.

Mahlaba did not disclose the details of the investigations, which he said would be compromised if information got out. He said the laptops, computers and documents seized all had “sensitive and confidential information” on them which if disclosed, or in the wrong hands, would seriously jeopardise ongoing investigations.

Mahlaba stated that he and other members of the audit team believe that “certain individuals have embarked on an orchestrated plan to destabilise and frustrate our investigation and reporting on these matters”.

He believes they had enlisted the assistance of “certain police from Loop Street” to obtain search warrants and remove the computers and documents concerned, he said.

Mahlaba described how police had swooped on his and other offices on March 18 and displayed an “aggressive” attitude.

He said up until April 1 police had declined to disclose the nature of the investigation being conducted by them or who the complainant in the case was.

Mahlaba said he was informed that three policemen, including Detective Warrant Officer N. Adimulam, had arrived at the offices of the Audit Unit in Gallwey Lane at 11 am on March 18. They approached members of the team and Adimulam in an “aggressive tone” inquired where “Mahlaba’s office” was.

He also inquired about other members of the audit team including Sitha­bile Msomi and Zamani Khoza.

Mahlaba said when Adimulam was told that Msomi was in a meeting he started “banging” on a desk and insisted she be contacted.

Mahlaba said Khoza was one of the “key figures” tasked with investigating corrupt relationships between Msunduzi officials and service providers.

According to Khoza, when police approached him they adopted a “maverick attitude”, and described Adimulam as the “most aggressive one”.

Adimulam asked Khoza if that was his computer on the desk and “before he could answer” removed the computer and placed it in a plastic bag.

“Mr Khoza inquired who they were and they stated they were police. They then saw a Unisa booklet on Mr Khoza’s desk and [Adimulam] in a threatening voice inquired if he was studying during municipal time,” said Mahlaba.

Mahlaba said he was attending a tender briefing at City Hall when the police arrived at his office.

Shireen Singh was instructed by Adimulam to phone him and give him the phone. He then “in an aggressive voice” told Mahlaba to be at his office in five minutes.

Mahlaba said when the policemen had demanded his laptop he initially told them his laptop had confidential and personal information on it. Adimulam then handed him a search warrant and “intimated that he had the power to break down the doors of my office if he so wished”, said Mahlaba.

He said after the raid senior police officers including a Captain Zuma had indicated that there were “concerns” among superior officers that legal processes were not followed during the raid as well as regarding the “excessive nature” of the police conduct.

However, although Msunduzi’s lawyer had at one stage believed, due to the apparent attitude of the senior officers, that the seized items would be returned “without a need to rush off to court” this did not materialise.

Mahlaba said on March 31, Colonel S.Y. Govender of Loop street (also cited as a respondent in the papers) made reference to a proclamation that had been issued concerning an investigation involving fraud and corruption into Msunduzi municipality by the Special Investigation Unit.

He then said he could not release the computers and documents at that stage and until the contents of the docket had been considered.

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg  |  corruption  |  fraud

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