- Three former Nelson Mandela Bay DA councillors have been arrested for allegedly taking bribes from the ANC to help it oust former mayor Athol Trollip.
- Trollip, now with ActionSA, said he was not surprised by the arrests.
- Eight people were arrested on Thursday by the Hawks in a fraud investigation involving an amount of R24.6 million.
Three former Nelson Mandela Bay DA councillors will spend the night in jail alongside ANC regional secretary Luyolo Nqakula after being accused of taking R100 000 each from Nqakula to help the ANC oust DA mayor Athol Trollip on Freedom Day in 2018.
The alleged plot was uncovered by the Hawks which were investigating an irregular toilet tender worth R24.6 million, awarded by the municipality in 2020.
On Thursday, Hawks spokesperson Yolisa Mgolodela told News24 investigators believed R400 000 of the amount went to Nqakula before he disbursed R100 000 to each of the councillors.
Following the overthrow of the DA-led coalition, the party terminated the councillors' membership.
The former DA councillors - Neville Higgins, Trevor Louw and Victor Manyathi - and ANC strongman Nqakula were among eight people arrested by East London's Serious Serious Corruption Investigation team of the Hawks on Thursday.
The unit swooped in on the suspects in different areas of Nelson Mandela Bay.
They face charges of fraud, money laundering and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.
The other suspects are acting city manager Noxolo Nqwazi, municipality housing department official Norman Mapu and businesspeople Xolani and Nwabisa Masela.
They will appear in the Port Elizabeth Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Friday morning.
The DA, which welcomed the arrests, described it as a vindication of the party's decision to terminate the councillors' membership in 2018, following what it said was their role in collapsing the DA-led coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay.
"Upon further investigations, it was uncovered that the three councillors took part in the ousting of their own DA mayor."
Xolani and Nwabisa Masela own HT Pelatona Projects company, which scored the lucrative tender.
About the alleged role played by its former councillors in the ousting of Trollip on 27 April 2018, the DA said:
The party added it stood for good governance and had a zero-tolerance policy for corruption and would be monitoring the case closely.
It said the law must take its course.
Called for comment, Trollip, who is now the Eastern Cape chairperson of ActionSA, said he was not surprised and if the allegations were true, the people of Nelson Mandela Bay had lost out because there had been chaos in the region ever since.
The Eastern Cape ANC said it would release a statement after the suspects appeared in court.
The party's provincial secretary, Lulama Ngcukayithobi, said: "For now, we don't have full details surrounding the arrests. We are hoping to get the details tomorrow once the accused have appeared in court. Thereafter, we will issue a statement on the matter."