- The late former mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay has been linked to fraud and corruption involving R25.6 million allegedly funnelled from the municipality in 2015.
- Seven people appeared in court on Thursday to face charges of fraud, money laundering, corruption and racketeering.
- It is alleged Bobani received a R2.45 million kickback after forming a criminal enterprise with the accused to capture the metro's health directorate and manipulated its procurement processes.
Late former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani's name has been placed at the centre of alleged theft of more than R25 million from the Eastern Cape municipality in 2015.
Bobani, who died of Covid-19 in November, was at the time of the alleged crime serving on the standing committee overseeing the public health directorate, which paid out R25.6 million through an allegedly dodgy tender.
It is alleged he received a R2.4 million kickback for playing a key role in the approval of the tender.
His name came up after seven people, including four former municipality employees, were arrested by the Hawks on Thursday morning and appeared in the Gqeberha Magistrate's Court for contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act, corruption, money laundering, racketeering and fraud.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has linked Bobani to the accused, Mpho Steyn Nangammbi, 44, Joram Mziwonke Mkosana, 49, Thabo Williams, 45, Andile Wellington Tolom, 51, Vuyokazi Bazi, 35, Thandeka Gloria Buti, 50, Rukaard Stefferine Lezario Abrahams, 31 and three companies - 4 Sisters Trading Enterprise CC (represented by Buti), Dankovista (PTY) LTD (represented by Abrahams) and Milongani Eco-Consulting CC (represented by Nangammbi).
The accused and entities collectively faced 48 counts, the NPA said.
In a statement on Thursday evening, it added the accused and Bobani allegedly formed a criminal enterprise to capture the metro's public health directorate and manipulated its procurement processes.
The NPA said the accused allegedly acted with a common purpose to manipulate the processes to ensure Milongani was awarded tenders.
A total of 43 payments amounting to just more than R25.6 million were made by the municipality into Milongani Eco-Consulting CC's FNB account for the tenders, it added.
Nangammbi, the owner of the closed co-operation, allegedly split and transferred a large portion of the funds into four FNB bank accounts, which also belonged to the company and into his three FNB personal accounts.
The NPA revealed how some of the money ended up with Bobani.
In an alleged effort to conceal the source of funds handed over to him, it was alleged funds were laundered through the bank accounts of 4 Sisters Trading and Dankovista, it said.
The NPA alleged from August 2015 to February 2017, R2.45 million was paid to Bobani through these bank accounts.
According to it, Nangammbi was granted R20 000 bail, Mkosana, Williams and Tolom were released on R8 000 bail each and Abrahams on R10 000, while Bazi and Buti were released on R3 000 and R1 000 bail, respectively.
The case was postponed to 28 January 2022, said NPA spokesperson Anelisa Ngcakani.
The NPA said the Makhanda High Court granted the Asset Forfeiture Unit a restraint order on Tuesday against the assets - estimated at just more than R11 million - of the accused, their spouses and entities, including the assets in the estate of Bobani.
Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Nqaba Banga welcomed the arrests, saying it was then-DA mayor Athol Trollip who blew the whistle on the alleged corruption.
Banga said the metro's internal audit department was currently investigating 153 cases of possible irregular contracts, 16 of which have been referred to the department since he took office, many emanating from his own office.
"A number of these cases are also under investigation by law enforcement agencies and the coalition of good governance will ensure that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality co-operates and provides all information required."