- The Asset Forfeiture Unit seized luxury vehicles and property from two Mhlathuze Water Board officials and a lawyer who have been charged in connection with the awarding of a legal services contract.
- The State is hoping to recover the R37 million it allegedly lost.
- The next court appearance for the accused is on 6 December.
Range Rovers, a BMW X6, a Mercedes-Benz V Class, a Jaguar and a Harley Davidson motorcycle were among assets the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) seized from two Mhlathuze Water Board officials and a lawyer on Friday in a bid to claw back R37m from them, according to the National Prosecuting Authority.
They are alleged to be among a group of government officials who colluded to sway the awarding of a legal services contract.
The AFU, the police, and the Hawks' National Clean Audit Task team descended on homes in plush Umhlanga Ridge, Ballito, Mthunzini Estate, Ashburton, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay and Cape Town.
The seizures are linked to allegations that Mhlathuze Water Board CEO Mthokozisi Duze and CFO Babongile Mnyandu, as well as attorney Sithembelo Ralph Mhlanga, worked together to bypass supply chain management protocols to award several orders to Mhlanga's law firm.
The Mhlatuze Water Board had undertaken a process to appoint a panel of service providers to render legal services. The permitted budget was also allegedly puffed up by a staggering 640%.
The NPA has alleged:
On top of that, the CEO and CFO also allegedly received certain "benefits" from the law firm for sending the tender to them.
Besides the flashy cars and property, the order obtained by senior State advocate Beverly Mothilall also allowed for the seizure of assets hidden in trusts, companies and cash in the bank.
The criminal matter returns to court on 6 December.
The assets will be held under restraint, pending the outcome of the case.
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The director-general in the office of the premier in KwaZulu-Natal, Nonhlanhla Mkhize, recently appeared in court on charges of obstructing the course of justice, intimidation and fraud.
She is accused of using her influence as the director-general to intimidate a whistleblower at the Mhlathuze Water Board, which covers a supply area of around 37 000km2, stretching from the uThukela River in the south of KwaZulu-Natal to the East Coast and the borders with Mozambique, and Swaziland and Vryheid, according to the utility's website.