Probe begins into R35-million missing in municipal merger

Ray Nkonyeni municipal manager, Max Mbili.

The probe into the alleged irregular expenditure of R35-million by the former Ezinqoleni Municipality during its merger with the Hibiscus Coast Municipality (to form the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality) has officially started.

Officials at the municipality had reportedly spent the money in just one month before the municipal systems were consolidated.

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According to Ray Nkonyeni Municipality’s (RNM) municipal manager Max Mbili, those responsible for financials at the former Ezinqoleni municipality had already been interviewed by the the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).

Mr Mbili was reporting back to council at the meeting held on Tuesday this week.

He assured councillors that they were determined to get to the bottom of the matter.

Mr Mbili said a scope of investigation had been finalised, based on a request made by council to Cogta after the auditor-general had picked up that money had been spent irregularly.

Interviews, he said, had already been conducted with former Ezinqoleni municipal manager, Mandla Mabece, former CFO Bheki Cele (now budget manager at RNM) and RNM internal audit manager, Sonwabile Kati.

Other officials and councillors thought to be involved had already been scheduled to testify and answer questions from Cogta.

Mr Mbili added that several project engineers had been consulted for the ‘value for money’ exercise and all documents pertaining the projects concerned had been submitted to engineers.

“Document analysis has started, however outstanding information is still awaited from some departments.”

Last year, the Herald reported on a community hall which had been built in the area at what some had claimed were inflated building costs.

Investigations revealed that various other projects which had appeared on the municipality’s IDP report had either not been done or had not been completed.

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And earlier this year, the Herald reported that a number of officials at the municipality could possibly be sacked on grounds of corruption and failure to perform their duties.

Following the publication of the article, a project management unit manager was axed.

The manager was a also a head of department (technical services) at the former Ezinqoleni Municipality and was allegedly dismissed in connection with irregular expenditure and for not following correct procedures when awarding tenders.

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Zimasa Mgwili
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