- Nine suspects, including former municipal officials, and six companies have been arrested on charges of fraud and corruption.
- They were warned to report to the Hawks on Friday morning.
- The arrests form part of the second leg of a Hawks investigation.
Nine suspects, including two former Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality officials, and six companies will be charged with fraud and corruption worth more than R56.4 million.
The suspects were warned to hand themselves over to the Hawks on Friday morning and are expected to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court.
Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase said the suspects include two former Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality officials, two influential community office-bearers as well as five businesspeople.
"The said nine natural persons will be charged along with six juristic persons (entities/companies)", said Nkwalase.
A tenth suspect who was to be arrested died recently.
Nkwalase said the municipality was selected for a rapid bus system in 2010 and the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) project was administered with funding allocated by the National Treasury.
"In the same year, another project called Implementation and Maintenance of an Institutional Contracts Management and Administration System (ICMAS) was undertaken," he said.
He said the service providers chosen for these two projects were reportedly "irregular" and their prices were allegedly inflated.
"The matter was reported to the Hawks for investigations in September 2018 following an audit report by the National Treasury between October 2014 and March 2017."
It is alleged that the suspects operated a syndicate with a common purpose to unlawfully circumvent the prescribed procurement processes to irregularly and fraudulently benefit specific suppliers or consultants.
It is further alleged that influential office-bearers conspired with municipal officials and controlled decision-making in the appointment of specific persons in critical municipal posts.
"This was purportedly done to influence procurement processes as well as the appointments of entities willing to advance the interests of the syndicate", Nkwalase added.
The alleged objective was to ensure a steady stream of unlawful payments from the municipality to members of the syndicate where the funds were distributed to other syndicate members.
According to Nkwalase, this forms the second leg of their investigation.
In the first leg conducted in April 2017, the Hawks arrested six people, including two company directors, one entity, one municipal official and one person from the Eastern Province Rugby Union.
The suspects are due in court on Friday.
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