Durban - The Msunduzi Municipality has called for those accused of “looting” R500 million from the municipality to be prosecuted by March.
The municipality’s determination to deal with the “looters” has seen it engaging the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to ask it to establish a commercial crimes court in Pietermaritzburg to prosecute the financial crimes that the municipality has reported to the police.
These engagements, said municipal manager Lulamile Mapholoba, were at a “serious” and advanced stage, adding that such a court could serve the entire uMgungundlovu District.
Mapholoba told “The Mercury” yesterday that the municipality had 10 cases that involved as much as R500m in suspicious or fraudulent transactions that had been referred to the police for investigation.
The council resolved a few weeks ago to approach the NPA as it was growing increasingly frustrated that these cases had not resulted in any prosecutions.
“There are many cases that have been referred to the NPA and involve huge sums of money, around R500m,” said Mapholoba.
“We open the cases and when we engage with the police they say
the matter is with the NPA, and that is why the council had resolved to approach the NPA to establish a commercial court in the city, because
we are concerned that failure to deal with these cases sends a wrong message to the public that we are a municipality tolerant of corruption.
“The NPA has assured us that it is giving this matter top priority subject to the availability of resources, and we have also met with the top prosecutors that would be handling our cases,” said Mapholoba.
He said they wanted to see the accused being charged, “preferably by March this year”.
ACDP councillor Rienus Niemand, speaking on the establishment of a commercial crimes court, said it was an excellent move as corruption affected everyone, especially the poor, who lose out on their constitutional right to basic services.
“The ACDP welcomes the development. In fact we have been calling year after year for such a unit to be established due to the ever-escalating corruption, lack of co-ordination and lack of political and administrative will to address this scourge.
“Very importantly, there is the paying public who suffer as they have to pay more through increased tariffs used to subsidise the shortages and receive less due to ineffective service delivery brought about by, among other reasons, corruption. The only way is to govern fairly.”
The DA’s Ross Strachan said any form of progression in terms of combating corruption was a step in the right direction.
“Especially since the number of cases that Msunduzi is experiencing with regards to corruption within government departments is becoming increasingly high,” he said.
The NPA directed questions on the issue to the Department of Justice as they are the custodians of the courts.
The Department of Justice said it was not aware of the request.