Residents accuse officials of stealing R1.2m

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Copy of st p4sec Bekkesdal 257.JPG Independent Newspapers Several violent service delivery protests have taken place in Bekkersdal. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg -

Bekkersdal residents have promised to provide Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu with proof their Westonaria Local Municipality officials stole some of the R1.2 billion allocated for the town’s development.

The money in dispute was allocated by the Gauteng provincial government under the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Lead Project in 2001.

At the time, the project was dubbed the Bekkersdal Urban Renewal Project. It had among its objectives the intention to build stormwater drains, clinics, bulk water infrastructure and houses.

Now, 13 years later, the Greater Westonaria Concerned Residents Association, which represents the community, claims that less than R500 million was spent and that some of the money disappeared without trace.

The dispute has led to several violent service delivery protests.

In a bid to resolve the matter, the national Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs announced on Thursday that the attorney-general had conditionally agreed to probe the allegations.

Departmental spokeswoman Tsakani Baloyi said: “The investigation is a realisation of the commitment made by Minister Lechesa Tsenoli and Gauteng MEC Ntombi Mekgwe last year during the meeting with Bekkersdal residents to investigate the veracity of the allegations of municipal maladministration and corruption in the implementation of the Bekkersdal Urban Renewal Projects.”

Baloyi said Bekkersdal residents had until Wednesday next week to provide proof of their allegations to the attorney-general’s’ office.

Baloyi said indications of criminal conduct would be referred to the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit or the police.

The residents’ association’s chairwoman, Wanda Modise, endorsed the process outlined by the attorney-general and undertook to furnish the required information before the deadline.

Modise said on Thursday they had evidence from whistle-blowers, the SA Municipal Workers Union and audited financial statements of the Gauteng legislature and previous attorney-general reports on their municipality to support the allegations.

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