Four senior officials in the Setsoto local municipality, which governs the town where community activist Andries Tatane was killed during a service-delivery protest, have been suspended.
The officials were suspended following investigations conducted by a task team set up by Mamiki Qabathe, the MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs, last month.
The task team is also investigating the poor implementation of municipal infrastructure-grant projects, an irregular supply chain, management process in the procurement of goods and services; and alleged nepotism, fraud, theft, maladministration, and poor performance of administrators in the municipality.
The suspended officials are chief financial officer Cassius Mabuya, Fiona Viljoen of planning and infrastructure, Moleko Madihlare of technical services, and Thato Khoase of community economic development and corporate services.
Kopung Ralikontsane, the head of the cooperative governance and traditional affairs department in the area, said: “Evidence suggests that they neglected their duties.”
Ralikontsane and Free State’s MEC for sports, arts, culture and recreation Dan Kgothule were part of a delegation that addressed a mass meeting – where the suspension was officially announced – in Meqheleng township on Friday morning.
The meeting was followed by violent clashes. Earlier, a mob of youths had attempted to march into the town despite the Meqheleng Concerned Citizens’ (MCC) application for a march having been turned down earlier in the week.
The mob pelted Ralikontsane’s delegation with stones and as they left they torched the township’s home affairs building, where the meeting was held.
MCC spokesperson Tseliso Mpekoa said the organisation distanced itself from the mob’s violent behaviour, supported the task team’s investigation and welcomed the suspensions.
Mpekoa said the MCC supported Wednesday’s local government elections and encouraged people to vote “as it is their democratic right”.
Ralikontsane said another report would be released to the community on Tuesday and a final report at the end of the month.
He added that the task team was conducting further investigations and that the suspended officials were placed on “precautionary leave”.
Kgothule, who was part of a delegation that addressed a meeting to announce the suspension to community members, said since 2007 the municipality had failed to act against officials who were not delivering.
“The municipality has failed us,” Kgothule told City Press. “We want to continue resolving this even after the election.”
Ralikontsane said some of the task team’s preliminary findings included that the installation of water and sanitation pipes was not done properly.
The task team was waiting for a report from engineers who were mandated to investigate issues of service delivery.