Johannesburg - A newly sworn-in ANC councillor in Joburg has been accused of swindling struggling taxi owners of their hard-earned cash in an apparent scam, promising them upmarket houses owned by the municipality.
The allegations against Ward 67 councillor Martha “Refiloe” Mazibuko emerged this week but the offences were allegedly committed between 2010 and 2011 while she was employed in the City of Joburg’s housing division.
Mazibuko allegedly extorted cash from desperate home-seekers, promising to find them homes in Observatory and Houghton.
The complainants, Willie du Plessis and Veronica Mofokeng, claim that they collectively paid Mazibuko R116 000 in exchange for houses. They were not the only people tricked by Mazibuko’s alleged fraudulent activities.
Tenants in several block of flats in Bellevue are among some of the other people who said they were deceived by the councillor.
A frustrated Du Plessis, who claimed to have paid money he received from his taxi racapitalisation, has opened a case against Mazibuko.
Police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini said outstanding statements were being collected, and once that was done, the docket would be forwarded to prosecutors for a decision.
Du Plessis, a taxi owner, said he was introduced to Mazibuko by a fellow church member and Mazibuko’s comrade, Doris Magubane.
Magubane confirmed this and further alleged that Mazibuko had asked her for help in recruiting potential home buyers.
She said she agreed to the deal after Mazibuko promised her that the City of Joburg would compensate her if she brought more clients. Her first client was Du Plessis. She confirmed the financial transactions between him and Mazibuko.
During the period of the alleged offences, Mazibuko was also a member of the ANC ward committee in Yeoville, responsible for housing. She allegedly approached Magubane to identify clients who wanted houses.
When contacted for comment, Mazibuko was initially evasive, claiming that she did not remember Du Plessis and Mofokeng.
She later admitted to knowing them but insisted that although she took their money, it had nothing to do with the selling of houses.
“I didn’t rob these people, they came to me,” she said.
“Doris is my comrade but I have never asked her to recruit people for me. How could I do that?”
She would not comment on what the money was for, instead claiming it was a private matter.
“I won’t discuss this further because it will involve a lot of people, but whatever they are saying to you is twisted and is not the truth,” she said.
“They are lying by saying I was selling them houses. I am asking myself why they are twisting this whole thing.”
Du Plessis is still seething.
“All I want is my money back. I have call records that will show how often I called her and she kept sending me from one house to another, where I found people occupying the homes.
“I cannot let her get away with my children’s money like that.
“If she knows what’s good for her, she will pay back my money and I will even go to court to withdraw the charges against her,” he said, showing The Star a letter signed by Mazibuko acknowledging receiving an amount of R37 000 from him.
Mofokeng said she paid Mazibuko R60 000 for a house in Houghton, next to King Edward VII School, but that when she went to there, she found people occupying it.
She said Mazibuko had been giving her the run-around since 2012 and that she last spoke to her when Mazibuko claimed to work in Alberton.
Du Plessis and Mofokeng said they traced her after her face featured on ANC election posters as a candidate.
ANC Joburg region spokesman Jolidee Matongo said the party was against crime and corruption.
“Anybody who has an allegation against our councillor is welcome to approach the council and the ombudsman. If our councillor is found to have done wrong, we will have to act. It has been done before where we fired a councillor, so we are committed to fighting corruption.”