After nine months of intense investigation by the Directorate of Priority Crimes (Hawks), they were immediately taken on Tuesday to the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court to appear in connection with allegations of fraud and corruption.
Abbu, whose arrest had been rumoured for months, shared the dock with Ngcobo and service providers Hlenga Sibisi, 43, Mzwandile Dludla, 24, Sinthamone Ponnan, 55, Sithulele Mkhize, 38, Bongani Dlomo, 53, Prabagaram Pariah, 61, and Khoboso Dlomo, 50.
According to Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, the nine were linked to an illegally awarded tender for refuse removal in the city worth a little more than R208m.
Their arrests were made by the Hawks’ National Clean Audit Task Team in the wake of ongoing investigations regarding alleged fraud and corruption activities at the municipality.
“It is alleged that the municipal officials illegally awarded a R208m tender to four service providers. The Durban Solid Waste tender ran from 2016 until last year. It is claimed the service providers were paid huge amounts of money even though they did not render any service,” Mulaudzi said.
Abbu, who is also the deputy head of strategy and new development, and Ngcobo were refused bail, together with Sibisi.
They are expected to return to the court today for a formal bail application.
Five other suspects, all refuse removal service providers for the city, were each granted R50000 bail.
Bail was set at R30000 for Dlomo.
Mulaudzi confirmed the Hawks were investigating other cases that the suspects were possibly linked to. But he said the present charges specifically related to a tender for refuse removal “for now”.
“Investigations are still continuing and more arrests are expected,” he said.
The court ordered the suspects not to interfere with witnesses and not to enter eThekwini Municipality premises as part of their bail conditions. Those who were granted bail are expected to appear in court again on August8.
The head of the Hawks, Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya, welcomed the arrests and pointed out that the fight against corruption and fraud in municipalities across the country was not new.
“I appreciate and commend the work of the team, which has been going on for the past nine months. The work will continue until all those who played a role in abusing taxpayers’ money answer for their actions in a court of law,” Lebeya said.
Commenting on the arrests, city spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said they would co-operate with law enforcement to “rid ourselves of fraud and corruption”.
Mayisela said that although the city had not been formally notified of the arrests, he learnt about them through a media statement by the Hawks.
“Whenever corruption rears its ugly head, it must be dealt with. We are doing everything possible to ensure that taxpayers’ money is used for service delivery and does not go into the pockets of some people,” he said.
The ANC’s chief whip in council, Nelisiwe Nyanisa, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The DA’s Nicole Graham welcomed the arrests. She called also for the arrests of figures who had been instructing the officials and service providers.
“We are pleased to finally see some arrests. This is one of hundreds of reports that had been swept under the rug for too long at city hall.
“We want to see the arrest of the politicians who have been instructing these officials and service providers to sub-contract, which is the root reason of this mess.
“DSW has become the cash cow of the corrupt in Durban.
“This is what the ANC have done to our beloved city, and it’s time we saw some politicians in handcuffs,” Graham said.
The IFP’s Mdu Nkosi, a member of the council Exco, echoed the call for more arrests, adding that the city needed to get its house in order politically and administratively.
“If an institution does not have internal controls then you will find people doing as they please,” he said.