Arrest warrant issued for ex-Nelson Mandela Bay mayor on day of his funeral
Cape Town – An arrest warrant was issued for former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani on the day of his funeral.
The Hawks confirmed that Bobani was one of the nine suspects accused of fraud and money laundering exceeding R56 million.
According to Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Philani Nkwalase, a warrant for Bobani's arrest was issued on the day of his funeral. His co-accused briefly appeared at the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Friday morning while Bobani's funeral service was conducted at the Feather Market Centre.
Nkwalase said the suspects were all released on a collective bail set at R255 000, with individual bail ranging from R5 000 to R100 000.
He said the suspects Zandisile Qupe, 49, Thando Ngcolomba, 60, and Bobani (deceased) were community office-bearers, who exercised their alleged influence within the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality to control decision-making in the procurement processes.
’’Mhleleli Mlungisi Tshamase, 54, Walter Shaidi, 65, and Nadia Gerwel, 55, were municipal officials who allegedly ensured which service providers were chosen, which included the irregular appointment of Fareed Fakir, 51, Heerkos Projects CC, Jarami CC, Erastyle, Davit le Roux, 45, and Le Roux Inc., Rukaard Abrahams, 30.’’
The case against the nine suspects and six juristic persons (entities) was postponed to March 12, 2021 for the matter to be placed at the high court.
Bobani, who was described as a dedicated servant, was laid to rest in PE. He died last Wednesday after being hospitalised for three weeks on testing positive for Covid-19.
He was removed as NMB mayor in December 2019 through a motion of no confidence, after he was accused of corruption and mismanagement.
The arrest of the nine come after the municipality was among those selected for a rapid bus system in 2010. The Integrated Public Transport System project was administered with funding allocated by the National Treasury.
In the same year, another project for the implementation and maintenance of an Institutional Contracts Management and Administration System (ICMAS), was undertaken.
Nkwalase alleged the service providers chosen on those two projects were reportedly irregular and their prices allegedly inflated, saying the matter was reported to the Hawks for investigation in September 2018, following an audit report by the National Treasury between October 2014 and March 2017.
"It is alleged that the suspects operated a syndicate with common purpose to unlawfully circumvent the prescribed procurement processes to irregularly and fraudulently benefit specific suppliers or consultants," he said.
Nkwalase said it was further alleged influential office-bearers colluded with municipal officials and controlled decision-making in the appointments of specific persons in critical municipal posts. That was purportedly done to influence procurement processes as well as the appointments of entities willing to advance the interests of the syndicate.
He said the alleged objective was to ensure a steady stream of unlawful payments from the municipality to members of the syndicate where the funds were distributed to other syndicate members.
The arrest formed the second leg of an investigation, with the first conducted in April 2017, where six suspects were arrested including two company directors, one entity, one municipal official and one person from Eastern Cape Province Rugby Union.