Umdoni Municipal Manager suspended pending forensic investigation

Umdoni Municipal Manager, Xolani Luthuli.

UMDONI Municipal Manager Xolani Luthuli has been placed on ‘precautionary suspension’ for alleged misconduct.

However, it would now seem that a meeting has been called for today at 10am at the Scottburgh Town Hall where Mr Luthuli is expected to attempt rescinding his suspension.

Initially, word was received that Mr Luthuli had been ‘fired’, following a special council meeting at Umdoni on Friday, April 21.

However, it later became clear that he had been suspended with full pay.

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The exact allegations are not not clear yet, but inside sources said Mr Luthuli had been suspended following a ‘lack of cooperation with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta)’ as a result of ‘discrepancies in the Small Town Rehabilitation Programme’.

During the 2015/16 financial year, Cogta approved R12-million be allocated towards the project, of which R6-million was transferred in support of phase one which would focus on the rehabilitation of roads, sidewalks, street lighting, street furnishing and park and public ablutions.

During a scheduled meeting with Cogta, Umdoni confirmed that the project was 80 percent complete.

Cogta requested details regarding the project, such as tender documentation, progress and contractor appointment letters. These were not forthcoming.

The lack of sharing of information persisted and another meeting was called with Mr Luthuli.

A lack of participation and project communication by Umdoni’s implementation team was noted and various documentation was again requested by Cogta.

The required information ranged from proof of payments, cash flow, schedule of site meetings to a revised business plan signed by Mr Luthuli.

It was, again, not received.

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Furthermore, information which was received indicated that invoicing data was inadequate and did not indicate what was indeed being paid for.

The dates of the payments are now also being questioned, as it seems that these are not in line with phase one of the project.

Lawyers have now been appointed to conduct a forensic investigation into the matters.

However, it would also seem that competent local attorneys were bypassed for outsiders.

It has further been requested that an independent auditor be appointed to conduct this investigation.

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