Forensic probe into allegations of serious misconduct at municipality
This follows a judgment in favour of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell in the Western Cape in a case brought by the Bitou council, said the Department of Local Government in the Western Cape.
Bredell’s spokesperson, James-Brent Styan, said the council wanted to prevent a Section 106 intervention by the MEC into the dealings of the municipality following 11 different serious allegations of misconduct.
He said these included an allegation of the establishment of “ghost companies” clandestinely run by municipal officials which performed non-existent contracts for the municipality.
Bredell said: “The judge found that there are a number of serious complaints levelled at the municipality and its staff, particularly involving employees located within the mayor’s office. The judge stated that each complaint was sufficiently serious to warrant forensic investigation.”
The judge stated that an internal report by the council was “superficial and worthless”.
“The judge added that the municipality’s lack of co-operation with the province was unlawful,” said Bredell.
According to the department, the judgment against the Bitou council ordered the council to comply with the S106 investigation initiated by Bredell and further demanded that it desist from impeding or undermining the investigation.
“Our no-nonsense approach and our willingness to investigate anyone and everyone without fear or favour is the reason why the Western Cape can claim to have the cleanest municipal governance in South Africa, with a full 21 of only 33 clean audits in the whole country being awarded in our province by the Auditor-General,” said Bredell.
“At the moment, there is an ongoing intervention in terms of Section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act in only two councils in the Western Cape. These are Bitou and George. Implementing Section 106 does not mean a council is being placed under administration (that) would only happen as a last resort.”
The George, Kannaland, Beaufort West and Oudtshoorn municipalities are being probed by the Hawks.