- The Hawks arrested four senior municipal officials in the Western Cape on Thursday.
- One of them, the municipal manager, handed himself over.
- According to the Hawks, the officials defrauded the Kannaland Municipality to the tune of R338 million.
The Hawks swooped on Kannaland on Thursday, armed with warrants of arrest for four senior municipal officials of the embattled Klein Karoo municipality.
Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said their Serious Commercial Crime Investigation Unit arrested the officials in connection with fraud to the tune of R338 million.
"Three officials in the Kannaland Municipality were arrested by the Hawks' Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team for fraud. The municipal manager later handed himself over at the Hawks' offices," he added.
The Hawks alleged the officials defrauded the municipality through fraudulent appointments and acting allowances. One official's company also allegedly benefitted while he was still employed by the municipality.
"The director of corporate services, Hendrick Barnard; the former chief financial officer, Nigel Delo; the municipal manager, Morne Hoogbaard and the human resources manager, McGrandile Makier, appeared in the Ladismith Magistrate's Court and were released on R15 000 bail each," Mogale said.
"The matter was postponed to 26 January 2022 and will be heard in the Oudtshoorn Regional Court."
Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said Makier, Barnard, Hoogbaard and Delo's alleged fraudulent activities led to the municipality losing millions of rand through the fraudulent employment of staff members, payment of inflated salaries, overtime payments and the cashing in on leave.
"They were released on bail under strict conditions that they must stay at their present addresses and inform the investigating officer if they are about to change their addresses.
"They must also not make contact with any witnesses, directly or indirectly, and must hand over their travel documents, whether they have expired or not. Their case was transferred to the Oudtshoorn Regional Court," he added.
Ntabazalila said all the accused, except for Delo, were still employed by the municipality in various leadership positions.
He added Delo was the CFO of the Blue Crane Route Local Municipality in Somerset East, the Eastern Cape.
Prosecutor advocate Razia Valley-Omar told the court: "The accused are guilty of an offence in that as senior managers and as officials wrongfully, unlawfully and deliberately, or in a grossly negligent way, failed to comply with a condition of their delegations in relation to irregular appointment of staff and irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the amount of R2 390 356.94 as detailed in, particularity, the general preamble."
Hoogbaard and Delo are also facing charges of fraud in the George Regional Court for allegedly claiming two salaries from the Eden and Kannaland municipalities.
Ntabazalila said the legal representative for two of the accused in Thursday's bail application, advocate Faried Stemmet, was the mayor of the Eden District Municipality when the alleged corruption took place.
He added as a result, he was a witness in the case against Hoogbaard and Delo.
However, Stemmet's mandate on Thursday was limited to the bail application to avoid a conflict of interest.