An Mpumalanga council has played down the fact that seven of 20 traffic officer graduates have been found to be related to a former mayor, councillors and regional ANC leaders.
The Emalahleni Local Municipality, in its investigative report leaked to City Press, said it could not prove that any of the interns linked to politicians benefited from “improper advantage”.
However, the council has committed to refer the matter to the ethics committee for further investigation, despite concluding that “who you know” and family relations should not be an “unfair advantage” or “disadvantage” to opportunities offered by the municipality.
“… A young person does not have any luxury to choose parents and their status and class in a society and to whom they are related is inconsequential when it comes to access to empowerment and youth development programmes,” the report read.
The local branch of the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) raised the alarm last week when the municipality published photos of the graduates in full uniform.
They had studied at the Mpumalanga Traffic Training College in Bushbuckridge at a cost of R2 million – of which R285 000 was spent as monthly stipends of R1 500 for each intern.
Emalahleni spokesperson Lebohang Mofokeng denied that the municipality had employed the graduates and said that they obtained the uniforms from the college.
When Sanco studied the faces on the photos, it made the observation that:
- Dumisane Djiane is the son of Jerry Djiane, chairperson of the Emalahleni municipal public accounts committee;
- Sithembiso Mbuli is the son of Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, the former executive mayor. Ntshalintshali is now the ANC acting provincial secretary and culture, sport and recreation MEC;
- Sizwe Mabona is a son of Ntshalintshali’s brother;
- Barbara Mohlala – Sanco alleged – is the girlfriend of Mduduzi Mswati Nkosi, the technical services member of the mayoral committee (MMC) and ANC Nkangala regional executive committee member;
- Lerato Ralele is married to Thabang Mathebula, the MMC of waste and environment. Mathebula is also the Nkangala ANC Youth League secretary;
- Sebula Mokgadi is the daughter of executive mayor Linah Malatjie’s aide, Feshy Mahlangu; and
- Lindokuhle Gift Tamale is the son of Derrick Skhosana, public safety MMC. As MMC, Skhosana is responsible for the municipality’s traffic department.
During a feedback meeting with Sanco on Friday morning, the council was reluctant to give its report to the civic organisation.
“We rejected the report,” said Bongani Hlophe, Nkangala Sanco executive committe member, “because it neither had the logo nor signature of the individual who signed it off.”
Hlophe said the list of deserving youth with no political connections was amended and the names of those with connections added.
“We were alerted by disgruntled officials to this nepotism,” he said.
The municipality’s report disclosed that three of the interns were related to Djiane, Skhosana and Mathebula.
“They, however, denied the part of the allegation which seems to state as fact that they interfered and/or unduly influenced the recruitment and selection processes,” the report read.
Nkosi, the report disclosed, dismissed the allegations against him as “baseless” and “politically motivated” because he had neither a wife nor a girlfriend who participated in the traffic officers’ training programme.
The report also showed that two of the three panel members responsible for the selection of the interns had denied that they were influenced.
One of the panel members could not be reached because he was on study leave.
“While a relationship was confirmed in some cases, we could not conclusively establish whether unfair advantage was induced by improper conduct or interference and undue influence. However, due to the seriousness and gravity of the allegations, and on a balance of probabilities, we will further subject the allegations to the ethics committee which will make recommendations to the council,” the report read.
Mofokeng said the report would be withheld until further notice.
“We will release the report after their [Sanco’s] formal written questions to the municipality,” he said.