Fear and threats as R35m expenditure is probed

Ray Nkonyeni

Ray Nkonyeni Municipality councillors want heads to roll amid ongoing investigations into alleged irregular expenditure, amounting to a staggering R35-million, reportedly incurred by the former Ezinqoleni municipality during its merger with the then Hibiscus Coast Municipality.

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Due to the complexity and sensitivity of the matter, the IFP caucus resolved to propose that council allow the Hawks to handle the investigation, both for security reasons and to protect councillors who are part of the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC).

IFP regional spokesman, Sifundo Ngwane told the Herald that by involving the Hawks, the municipality could avoid tragedies such as the brutal murder of Umzimkhulu ANC councillor, Sindiso Magaqa who was allegedly gunned down for exposing corruption at the municipality.

“This is a very serious matter,and councillors involved in these investigations could be in great danger,” he said.

The Herald also received information that some of these councillors had already received threats.

However, Ray Nkonyeni Municipal Manager, Max Mbili, said council was not aware of any such threats.

During the council meeting on Tuesday this week, the IFP, seconded by the DA, asked the MPAC to present an interim report, including video footage, of all projects visited.

However, the ANC objected to the footage being provided, citing many reasons for the objection, including the fact that it felt this might compromise investigations.

Council then resolved not to release the interim report footage, but asked for the final report – which included all projects – to be presented to council by February 28 next year.

The probe came after reports surfaced of money allegedly being fraudulently spent on projects in just one month during the amalgamation of the two municipalities.

The Auditor-General had recommended that the matter be investigated.

In October 2016, two months after the amalgamation, the Herald noticed irregular entries in the annual financial reports, finding that projects and funds allocated did not appear to correspond.

The investigations were triggered by a hall in the Mlozana area which had allegedly cost R4.6 million to reconstruct, but which the municipal records reflected had cost R2-million.

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At the time, the Herald visited the hall and reported on its shocking state. Photographs taken showed cracked walls, broken windows and worn, rusted and old sanitation equipment.

A technical services manager was later axed, but the municipality said it was not at liberty to reveal the reason for his dismissal.

DA caucus leader, Doug Rawlins, told reporters that the DA saw this as ‘a classic example of corruption involving senior officials and service providers’, implicating some big names in the municipality.

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Zimasa Mgwili
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Probe begins into R35-million missing in municipal merger