Pretoria - In a case of alleged corruption in the City of Tshwane, two men - a municipal official and an employee of a metro contractor - have been accused of attempting to solicit a bribe from a businessman.
Mongamola Ramaphakela, 24, and Matsobane Masekela, 34, appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday on charges of corruption after allegedly offering to make the businessman’s electricity bill of more than R1.3 million “go away” if he paid them R400 000.
The city official is an administrative officer and the other man, who is from Thembisa, works for a contractor to the metro, cutting off the electricity supply to residents and business people who fail to pay their accounts.
The men allegedly approached the businessman, whose identity is known to the Pretoria News, and offered their “assistance” with his arrears. He alleges they asked him to pay them to make his account “disappear” from the system.
The businessman agreed to meet the accused with R120 000 of the total amount they had agreed on and called the Hawks to set a trap.
When the businessman handed over the money, the Hawks arrested the two men on Friday.
Metro spokesman Selby Bokaba said it was too soon to say whether Masekela would be suspended as he had been arrested at the weekend.
However, the metro could serve Masekela with an intention to suspend letter, to which he would have to respond giving reasons why he believed he should not be suspended.
In the case of Ramaphakela, the city would consider its options in relation to the contractor, Bokaba said.
“Anything that directly or indirectly impacts on the good image of the city is something that we are worried about. We will look into the matter within the confines of the law,” Bokaba said.
The matter was postponed to February for further investigation after the accused were granted bail of R3 000 each.
Both men said they would plead not guilty to the charges and that they would stand trial.
They said they were the sole breadwinners in their families and had children to support.
The accused may not contact the City of Tshwane’s witnesses in the case, they must report to their local police station three times a week and they may not apply for travel documents while their trial is under way.
Also, they are not allowed to move without permission from the residential addresses they have given.
It has not yet been determined whether the men were working as part of a syndicate.
In October, the metro showed its determination to clamp down on corruption when 12 employees in the horticulture department were fired for fuel theft over three months. The fuel was valued at more than R800 000.
An additional 16 employees were found guilty of similar offences. A number of officials resigned after being caught out.
“City management has vowed to intensify its clampdown on corrupt employees in a quest to weed out criminality in its midst,” Bokaba said.
The corruption case is one of many involving municipal employees this year. Last month, two municipal workers were arrested while selling refuse bags to a Sunnyside businessman for R200