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North West -
Properties belonging to Madibeng Municipality officials found to have been involved in corruption, will be forfeited to the State as the proceeds of crime.
Every cent they earned with underhand tactics will be recouped and guilty parties arrested.
North West Premier Thandi Modise has given her sternest warning yet that heads will roll as the implementation of a minister’s report on maladministration, fraud and corruption gains momentum.
“It makes a mockery of us to uncover corruption and not see action taken against those implicated. We would want to see properties forfeited to the state as proceeds of crime, every cent recouped and people arrested,” Modise said.
“We appeal to communities to exercise restraint and not disrupt the intervention, aimed at ridding Madibeng of fraud and corruption and turning it around so service delivery is accelerated.”
On Monday night, Modise declared the beleaguered municipality dysfunctional and placed it under provincial administration.
The municipality, which has its seat in Brits, has been plagued by service delivery protests in recent weeks in Mothotlung, Majakaneng and Hebron.
Residents blamed lack of service delivery on corrupt municipal officials and alleged payments had been made for incomplete projects.
Three senior officials – whose identities have been withheld – and some insiders in the municipality were accused by residents of being involved in corrupt activities.
The officials are also accused of having embezzled R28 million meant for upgrading the water infrastructure in several townships in the Madibeng area.
Residents claim this was to ensure they continued to benefit from a tender for supply of water to the townships, using trucks owned by the municipal officials.
The protesters suggested doing away with tenders and restructuring the administration as the only way forward.
There are also claims that rightful owners were cheated out of their RDP houses, which were sold, and in some instance not built, although money had already been allocated for that purpose.
A task team made up of the office of the premier and the departments of Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Public Works, Roads and Transport, Education, Rural Development and Land Reform has since launched an investigation into service delivery problems in areas such as Hebron.
Water provision, land ownership and traditional leadership disputes are being looked into, as well as the abandoned sports ground development, swimming pool and non-functional high mast lights projects undertaken by Madibeng in the area.
In April Minister of Co-operative Governance at the time, Richard Baloyi, announced the outcome of an investigation into Madibeng. It revealed corruption, fraud and maladministration were rife and hindering service delivery.
Baloyi said those implicated would be prosecuted, but nothing was done, as the council, then presided over by mayor Poppy Magongwa, rejected the report.
Magongwa presented the report at a council meeting, but it was never implemented with the ANC using its majority to approve a recommendation from its half of the council, to reject the report.
Following the water shortage protest that claimed four lives in January, Magongwa resigned.
She was replaced by Tshidi Mongoathe, who insiders said never really stood a chance of turning the fortunes of the municipality around while surrounded by people implicated in the corruption.
The ink had yet to dry on her employment papers when Modise dissolved the municipality and gave executive powers to Blake Mosley-Lefatola on Monday night.
Mosley-Lefatola will have to appoint an acting municipal manager outside the current municipal personnel with immediate effect, and implement the recommendation of Baloyi’s reports, as well as those of other previous administrators.
He must also improve service delivery in the municipality – prioritising water and sanitation services – and improve the financial controls in the municipality.
The administrator is also required to investigate all recently awarded contracts to establish their validity and legitimacy, and terminate those that are not legitimate.
In addition, he must ensure that criminal proceedings are finalised against any officials, councillors and service providers implicated in wrongdoing.
Modise has called on communities in Madibeng to remain calm and exercise restraint while the impasse between the provincial government and councillors – opposed to their council being placed under provincial administration – was resolved.
The premier appealed to to councillors to put the interests of communities above their personal vested interests. The provincial government would not abdicate its constitutional responsibility of ensuring that the municipality was turned around and made clean, effective, responsive and accountable so it meets the basic service needs of its communities, she said.
ANC spokesman Ishmael Mnisi said the party was working side-by-side with its deployees in Madibeng to ensure that the recommendations of the task team report were implemented to the letter.