DA accuses Limpopo government of 'hiding' forensic report into 539 suspicious bank transfers

Democratic Alliance. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Democratic Alliance. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The Democratic Alliance has accused the Limpopo government of trying to "hide" a forensic report which revealed alleged widespread corruption at the Modimolle-Mookgophong Municipality, where millions of rand were siphoned off.

The forensic investigation was initiated by the DA after the party took control of the municipality from the ANC in the 2016 local government elections.

READ | Forensic probe reveals litany of corruption in Limpopo's Modimolle-Mookgophong Municipality

At a media briefing in Polokwane on Tuesday, Mayor Marlene van Staden said the provincial government had only acknowledged the existence of the forensic report after the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) was invoked.

"We contacted the National Treasury, but they informed us the report was with the provincial government. We then lodged a PAIA application and then that same day we received phone calls from the provincial government persuading us to stop the application because it was available," Van Staden said.

She said the report had been gathering dust since it was handed over by National Treasury to the provincial government in February this year.

"The only conclusion I can come to is that they were trying to hide it so that it didn't disturb their May 2019 election campaign," Van Staden said.

Debated behind closed doors

READ | Court orders Malema's lawyer to hand over his trust accounts for inspection

However, Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs MEC Basikopo Makamu denied that there was a deliberate move to "hide" the report.

He told News24: "I only came to know about the forensic audit only after seven minutes of my appointment [as the MEC].

"Anyway, the investigation was done by the National Treasury and I had to get a briefing. After that, I had to take the report to the executive council of the province.

"I went to the municipality [on Monday] to meet with the mayor and PMT (political management team). It is up to them to decide on it [the report]. I clarified them on the processes and legislation to follow on the implementation [of the recommendations].

"If DA has some issues from somewhere else, they should raise it with me because they are able to provide oversight through the legislature," Makamu said.

The report, which News24 has seen, is to be tabled and debated behind closed doors at the municipal council meeting on Friday.

The report found that 539 suspicious transactions, labelled only as "electronic fund transfer", in the municipality's bank statements were made to companies that have no service level agreement with the municipality.

The report also found that, among the companies that benefitted irregularly, was law firm Legodi Attorneys, whose partners include Tumi Mokoena, EFF leader Julius Malema’s lawyer.

The law firm was paid more than R9.3m between June 2017 and May 2018.

Among the recommendations made by the report was that criminal charges be laid against Legodi Attorneys for submitting suspicious invoices and municipal manager Oupa Sebola for contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).

Legodi and Sebola have since denied any wrongdoing.

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