Durban - Five KwaZulu-Natal municipal officials have been suspended for allegedly colluding with each other to have their salaries doubled.
The suspension of the uThukela District Municipality officials late last month followed an investigation by the Pietermaritzburg Commercial Crimes Unit into the matter after it was handed over to the police.
The mayor of the municipality, Dudu Mazibuko, claimed this week the officials’ salaries had been inflated for a period of six months, thereby benefiting them by about R2 million.
This brings to 27 the number of suspended officials in the municipality since March.
The municipality has its seat in Ladysmith.
“Internal investigations revealed that these officials, including senior officials, colluded with each other to have their salaries doubled. We picked this up in February and started the investigation,” Mazibuko said.
“Since the official investigation into the recent five, we decided to suspend them on full pay pending the outcome.”
Between March and April, 18 employees were suspended after the municipality took action after an Auditor-General’s report, which stated that they were paid unreasonable allowances and salaries.
In June a further four employees were suspended.
All 27 investigations are pending and the staff are suspended.
At the time, Mazibuko had said that staff in the salaries department had colluded with other employees to file fabricated overtime or travel claims.
She said all this was uncovered after the IFP was ousted by the ANC, which is in coalition with the NFP.
Mazibuko said this week that the current administration was not apportioning blame about the alleged fraud in the municipality.
But she vowed that they would do whatever it took to rid the institution of people who did not have the best interests of the communities they served at heart.
“We have a duty to serve our people and to achieve that we need to work together for the benefit of the people,” she said. “The municipal manager, when he is ready, will table a full report on all the suspensions and how they had impacted on the municipality.”
The spokesman for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lennox Mabaso, said municipal mayors and managers should not be scared to act against wrongdoers.
“MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube has been encouraging municipal heads to take charge, and not sit back while things fall apart,” he said. “Every municipal employee should have only one agenda, and that is to serve the people.”
Mabaso said the department was encouraging the speeding up of the investigation disciplinary process to avoid having people earning salaries while under suspension.
The Commercial Crimes Unit would not comment on the matter, but a Ladysmith police officer who requested anonymity, because he is not allowed to speak to the media, confirmed the five officials were being investigated for allegedly stealing R1 994 000 from the municipality.
Police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, confirmed the investigation, but said it was in the hands of the Commercial Crimes Unit.
IFP provincial leader, Blessed Gwala, said he welcomed the suspension because the party did not condone corruption.
“If it is true that during IFP time corruption was not detected then the suspension of these officials is welcome,” said Gwala.