File picture: Jon Super/AP
File picture: Jon Super/AP

Mayor threatens action against SIU over raid at Cederberg municipal offices

By Siphokazi Vuso Time of article published Sep 15, 2020

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Cape Town - Cederberg municipality mayor Sylvia Qunta has threatened to haul the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) before the courts following a search-and-seizure operation relating to irregular procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the municipal offices on Monday.

She said before Monday’s raid, SIU members entered the municipal offices and attached laptops and private cellphones of staff members without a proclamation or a warrant on September10.

“An arrangement was made with one of the officers, Fagmie Rajat, representing the SIU, to hand over the information needed and it was further agreed that copies of the documentation would be left with the office of the municipal manager.

“Actions done in accordance with the Constitution and the law are supported. This kind of conduct is unacceptable, and the courts will be approached to review where appropriate,” she said.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said a proclamation had been valid since July 23 and it was signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The unit was back in the municipality along the West Coast, including Clanwilliam, Citrusdal and Lambert’s Bay, seizing more documents and devices from the municipal manager’s office on Monday.

There were also reports that officials attempted to block the SIU from doing its job.

Quanta said: “The Cederberg municipality has conducted procurement of PPE and food parcels in accordance with its recognised prescripts and policies and will assist the SIU in its investigation.

“The SIU must act with respect and treat staff members with dignity. The municipality has nothing to hide and will continue to assist the SIU in its investigations as long as these investigations are done lawfully with due regard for constitutional rights.”

Kganyago said: “We went there with a section 52A, which gives us the power to get the documents, where they still closed the offices and did not want us to go in, that is why we went again

“But we were within our right to do that. The proclamation was signed by the president. He even said he wants a report on that every six weeks and we’ve already given the first report to the president.”

Kganyago said the investigation in the municipality was ongoing.

“In this particular (investigation) we were following the same suppliers that we were investigating in Matzikama municipality and we found that they were the same suppliers also providing the same service to this municipality.”

Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said police were outside the building during the visit to the Cederberg municipalityon Monday.

Local government MEC Anton Bredell said: “This is the second council in the province which the SIU has now raided. Again the allegations being investigated relate to fraudulent procurement of personal protection equipment and again the SIU has been hampered in its work, with the local ANC-led council allegedly attempting to block the investigation.

“I want to repeat the call I have made to the leader of the opposition in the Western Cape, Cameron Dugmore, to work with us in tackling corruption and ensuring good governance in the province,” said Bredell.

The ANC in the province referred the Cape Times to Qunta’s statement.

The SIU is also probing the Western Cape Education Department for paying Masiqhame Trading 1057 CC 99.8% of all the PPE spending.

Questions had been raised about how the company with a residential address and no website received 74 of the department’s 87 tenders, according to the first edition of the Procurement Disclosure Report.

Asked whether the company had links to the DA, MEC Debbie Schäfer’s spokesperson, Kerry Mauchline, said politicians were not involved in the procurement process in the Western Cape.

“I am not aware of the claims.”

She said the department has an existing contract with Masiqhame for the supply of cleaning, gardening and electrical supplies.

Cape Times

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