Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – George municipal manager Trevor Botha has fired back at Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell after he said the municipality had learnt through the media that an investigation had been ordered to probe allegations of fraud and corruption.

“It is mind-boggling and astounding for the municipality to have learnt from a media statement that the MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell ‘Orders investigation into George Municipality, and ‘Probe ordered into George Municipality over alleged fraud and corruption’,” said Botha.

On Monday, Bredell had announced that his department would be investigating allegations relating to maladministration, fraud, corruption and/or any other serious malpractice at the municipality.

“I am of the view that the allegations that were brought to my attention require further investigation.

‘‘Accordingly, I have authorised an investigation. This investigation will focus on, among other matters, the George Integrated Public Transport Network and irregular appointments made at the municipality. No stone will be left unturned,” Bredell said.

While Botha said it was true that the MEC was within his rights to initiate an investigation into allegations, Section 7 of the Western Cape Act compelled him “to notify the municipality in writing of his decision and reasons for designating persons to investigate allegations”, many of which he said had already been the subject of a recent investigation by the Hawks and the department.

“The timing and motive of this investigation and the fact that the MEC considered it necessary to announce his intention via the media is questionable.

‘‘A letter to this effect was sent to the speaker of the municipality on the same day of Bredell’s media statement.

“Bredell confirmed, in a letter dated December 10, 2018, that he was of the view that it was ‘unnecessary, in the current circumstances, for an investigation to be initiated in respect of the allegations set out in his correspondence to the municipality, dated 20 June 2018’,” Botha added.

He said it was unsurprising that since he had reported the R350million Old Mutual Investment allegations of corruption to police and the Hawks, a barrage of spurious, trumped-up and unsubstantiated allegations had been levelled against the municipal manager and the mayor.

“Despite reporting the Old Mutual investment findings following an independent forensic investigation, which far exceeds the legal threshold of prima facie evidence, on various occasions to Bredell’s office, it, sadly, did not elicit the same response and actions (as those) currently being taken by Bredell against the municipality.

‘‘It is unbelievable to note that the Old Mutual corruption case does not form part of the focus of Bredell’s probe,” Botha said.

He called the move a “demonstration of political retaliation”.

“The ruthless subversion to publicly denounce the George Municipality based on unsubstantiated hearsay in the media seems to support the view that their unsurpassable, selective, “probing” into allegations against certain senior officials appears to be a demonstration of political retaliation,” Botha said.

Cape Times