Pic : Se-Anne Rall.
DURBAN - The Delangokubona Business Forum and 62 eThekwini councillors allegedly received substantial cash kickbacks from a refuse removal contractor implicated in the R208million “dirty” Durban Solid Waste (DSW) contract.

This emerged in the Durban Commercial Crime Court yesterday during the bail application of DSW deputy head Robert Abbu, the city’s supply chain deputy manager Sandile Ngcobo and municipal contractor Hlenga Sibisi.

They were arrested together with six other city contractors by the Hawks on Tuesday morning.

The other six suspects were released on bail on the same day, while Abbu, Ngcobo and Sibisi were released on R50000 bail each yesterday with strict bail conditions.

They were ordered not to enter the DSW and supply chain offices in Springfield Park, Anton Lembede Street and Old Fort Road.

Magistrate Dawn Soomaru also ordered Abbu and Ngcobo not to return to their offices but to work from another office.

They have also been barred from communicating with state witnesses or any of their subordinates and ordered to liaise with their superiors via their legal representatives for work-related matters.

Soomaru advised Abbu and Ngcobo to meet city management to discuss how to implement the bail conditions.

The three also had to hand in their passports and will have to notify the investigating officer if they leave the province.

During cross-examination of Sibisi, State prosecutor Ashika Luckan alleged that substantial amounts of money which had been received from the municipality for refuse removal had been transferred from Sibisi’s business account to about 62 city councillors and the Delangokubona Business Forum.

Sibisi is the project manager for Ilangalamahlase, a company contracted to the city for the past three years to remove refuse and rubble from KwaMashu.

In response, Sibisi did not comment on the councillors being paid, but conceded that a payment of R10000 was made to the forum.

Investigating officer Colonel Frans Mpaki testified that he was forced to expedite the arrests months before his investigation was completed due to the high level of intimidation and interference experienced by the witnesses.

Mpaki said state witnesses, including municipal employees, had allegedly been threatened by Abbu, Ngcobo and Sibisi.

He said a municipal official who processed payments alleged that he was threatened by Sibisi with a gun at the municipal offices after he did not receive payment for work he had done.

Sibisi denied this and said his case against the city for the money he was owed was to be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in July.

It was also alleged that Abbu tried to force four of his subordinates to give him documents related to the current investigation and had threatened them with dismissal if they did not co-operate.

In an email to staff, he had allegedly requested all the contracts of the waste management tenders, schedules of all the major tenders and a list of personnel overseeing the evaluations.

Abbu denied the allegations that he had threatened officials.

The State said that when the subordinates refused to comply, Abbu had reported them to the human resources department.

Abbu admitted this, but said he had only followed protocol.

He said he had requested the documentation because he had been off sick for a long period and needed to be updated on the status of the contracts.

However, Luckan pointed out that Abbu had been away from work between August and November last year but only requested the documentation in March this year.

Mpaki alleged that when Abbu failed to get the documents from his subordinates, he instructed the city’s municipal public account committee and the executive committee to get the documents from the City Integrity and Investigations Unit.

“I needed to effect these arrests now, even though my investigation is not complete, because I need to protect the integrity of the investigation.

“I also needed to ensure that the witnesses would testify without fear during the trial,” Mpaki said. He said it would take eight more months to complete the investigation.

Abbu and Ngcobo denied knowing about the investigation until their arrests. However, the State said they had been informed in October last year.

Mpaki also testified that protests in the city since last year were directly linked to his investigation.

He alleged Sibisi was linked to the violent protests that called for the removal of the city manager.

It was also alleged that the business forum was part of the protests in the city.

“From the information received, it is clear that Sibisi is linked to the violent protests in the city.

“Sibisi, through his entity Ilangalamahlase, is the source of financial support to Delangokubona, who we believe, organised these protests,” Mpaki said.

eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede declined to comment on the allegations that councillors had been paid.

The case was adjourned to August 8.

THE MERCURY