Bribery scandal: Official suspended for ‘not disclosing previous allegations of corruption’

2015-11-17 15:20
Solomon Nnete. Pic: Lucky Nxumalo

Solomon Nnete. Pic: Lucky Nxumalo

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WATCH: Councillors deny corruption caught on tape

2015-11-11 16:15

City Press spoke to some of the councillors who were allegedly on a recording 'soliciting' bribes, including the municipal manger and council speaker. They denied that they had been at the meeting in question.WATCH

North West’s Ditsobotla local municipality acting manager Solomon Nnete says he suspended chief financial officer Leeto Dintwe because of non-performance and failure to disclose previous allegations of corruption.

Dintwe’s suspension last week came after City Press revealed that a service provider had accused him of trying to solicit a R150 000 bribe.

The story also detailed an alleged attempt by eight ANC municipal councillors to solicit a R250 000 bribe from the same businessman, Fikile Bili, who recorded their meeting.

The municipality hired Dintwe after he was suspended by the provincial public works department following allegations of misconduct in the awarding of a multimillion-rand tender.

Last week Dintwe declined to comment, saying that he would be available for a one-on-one interview at a later stage. He had also denied Bili’s bribery allegations.

Nnete said today that his term as acting municipal manager would come to an end tomorrow and he would return to his original post of the municipality’s head of public safety.

His three-month term as acting municipal manager ended in October but council asked him to remain in office until the North West provincial government appointed a new person to the post.

“The province wanted to appoint somebody neutral,” Nnete said.

He said that he wrote to the mayor and speaker yesterday to inform them that he would not be able to continue beyond tomorrow and that they should “push the province to make a new appointment”.

Despite his departure, Nnete said Dintwe’s suspension was processed last week while he was still legally in office.

The embarrassing corruption allegations against ANC councillors had also drawn the attention of the party’s headquarters, Luthuli House.

North West ANC secretary Dakota Legoete said on Friday that Luthuli House had asked the provincial executive committee (PEC) what it was doing about the allegations against party councillors.

“They wanted to know whether we were dealing with this thing and handling it with speed,” said Legoete. “We cannot deploy people as councillors and have them doing other things on the side.”

A team of ANC officials visited the municipality yesterday and attended a council sitting.

Also yesterday, Ditsobotla mayor Lesego Holele met with local government MEC Wendy Nelson to discuss Nnete’s replacement.

Last week, City Press reported that a meeting was held at Lichtenburg Golf Club on August 28, at which eight ANC councillors – accompanied by Nnete – met Bili and allegedly asked him for a bribe of “two-fifty” – or R250 000 – to ensure that his company Zandile Management Services was paid and that he retained his contract.

The councillors included speaker Pogisho Maitshotlo, Letlhogonolo Mothibedi, Vincent Dila and Molefe Morutse. All of them have denied asking for bribes.

On the recording, Bili asks: “If I have to invoice R200 000 by the end of this month, how much must I pay you out of R200 000, or whatever I need to pay? Is it a once-off payment, or is it month to month?”

At 7.04 minutes, two voices respond “two” – apparently meaning both options.

Dila is heard threatening Bili, saying he and the council would “part ways”, and he would lose his contract: “All of us sitting here are under the impression that we have moved ... we thought he was invested into this thing and yet we have not received niks [nothing].”

Legoete said that at the ANC’s national general council last month it was made clear that the party “should act swiftly against those found to be on the wrong side of principle and the law”.

He said the province this week began an investigation into the allegations against the eight councillors, led by a team of three officials from the ANC PEC who investigate and prosecute errant members.

Ditsobotla’s administrative woes saw it being named among the top 20 defaulting municipalities that were warned of possible power cuts by Eskom unless they made arrangements to pay.

Bili has laid a complaint of bribery and corruption against the councillors. The complaint is being investigated by police from North West provincial headquarters.
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