George councillor accused of irregularities opens defamation case against Herron and Dugmore
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Cape Town - George councillor the DA’s Stag Cronjé, who was accused of irregularities linked to a controversial R350 million investment, has lodged a complaint of crimen injuria against Good Party secretary-general Brett Herron and provincial ANC leader Cameron Dugmore.
The investment was made with Old Mutual in 2017, where Cronjé's son was employed as an agent for the institution's Broker Distribution.
The choice of the financial institution came under scrutiny as Cronjé's son allegedly benefited after he received commission for facilitating the deal.
The George Municipality conducted an internal disciplinary process instituted under the code of conduct for councillors, which found that he had breached the code of conduct.
Cronjé was fined one month's pay for not declaring his interest in the matter following a recent municipal disciplinary hearing.
Municipal council members opened a case with the local police for investigation and the matter was submitted to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for scrutiny and to determine whether anyone should be charged.
According to Cronjé, on April 26 NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila sent a letter stating none of the allegations in the docket can be substantiated and they could not prosecute.
Cronjé claimed that attacks from Herron and Dugmore have been continuing despite all findings.
“The accusations against me about the George municipal funds invested with Old Mutual are patently false. They are real, damaging and are libellous. The facts are ignored, and the fake news (is) manipulated for political gain,” said Cronjé.
Southern Cape police spokesperson Malcolm Pojie confirmed that a case of crimen injuria was laid by Cronjé on Tuesday.
“However, the case docket was transferred to Conville SAPS as it is alleged that the incident took place at a meeting held in the Conville policing precinct. It is alleged that the complainant was falsely accused of an illegal investment made on behalf of George Municipality whereby his son allegedly benefited from,” Pojie said.
Herron said Cronjé's alleged role in the unlawful investment of the town's funds with Old Mutual, benefiting his broker son, was a “grossly unethical and unlawful act that is richly deserving of public protector scrutiny”.
“Cronjé has been sanctioned by his own party. The evidence is overwhelming, the facts have been confirmed by both an Old Mutual Forensic Services investigation as well as an investigation undertaken for the municipality by an independent investigator. The decision not to prosecute is curious but it doesn't change the facts,” said Herron.
Dugmore said should Cronjé proceed with his threat of court action, the first witnesses they will call are the members of the committee in the George Municipality who found him guilty of breaching the code of conduct for councillors and recommended that Local Government MEC Anton Bredell remove him as a councillor.
“It was only the DA caucus who had the majority in the council who voted against this sanction of removal as a councillor and replaced it with a small fine.
“The fact that the NPA has decided not to prosecute is another matter. We will request the full report from the Hawks, including which witnesses were interviewed and which were not, in order to fully understand the NPA decision,” Dugmore said.
“I challenge Cronjé to release the FTI forensic report and the finding of the council’s disciplinary committee to the public and media, and let them be the judge,” he added.
DA George constituency head Geordin Hill-Lewis said the party had mentioned there was no evidence of corruption. According to Hill-Lewis, the problem was that Cronjé made incorrect declarations to council and was issued the fine.
“We said all along that there was no corruption. A forensic investigation found none.
“The only issue was his incorrect declarations. There were two separate investigations and a disciplinary. The case now lodged by Mr Cronjé is a private legal matter between him, Mr Dugmore and Mr Herron,” he said.