DA’s Karoo District mayoral candidate says he won’t pay more than R600K owed to municipality
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DA mayoral candidate for the Karoo District municipality and Beaufort West councillor Derrick Welgemoed has denied allegations that he was involved in the “theft” of 30 municipal properties.
In a media briefing, ANC head of elections Cameron Dugmore announced that he will on Thursday write to the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit to probe the matter.
Welgemoed is accused of engineering an auction of about 30 municipal properties and he allegedly provided the funding for district people to purchase the properties at low prices. Properties were transferred into the name of the Melkhout Ontwikkeling Trust, of which Welgemoed is the director.
It’s alleged that Welgemoed owes R684 297.53 in rates to the municipality.
“The information provided to us points to allegations of massive property theft in the Beaufort West Municipality and we believe that this is not only a matter for the Hawks, but also the SIU – which has the power to recover monies that have been unlawfully acquired,” Dugmore said.
On October 1, Financial Services director Nomfundo Ntsangani wrote to Welgemoed stating that a payment arrangement be made. Ntsangani further referenced that, in terms of the code of conduct of councillors, as outlined in the Municipal Systems act, a councillor is not supposed to owe a municipality for more than 90 days. The arrears is more than 180 days.
Welgemoed was given until October 13 to respond, but he apparently failed to do so.
Commenting on the matter to Independent Media, Welgemoed said: “I’m the whistle-blower for Beaufort West. I informed the Hawks about the corruption involving two ANC councillors, who were arrested on September 17 for corruption. You know, it’s election time. These guys are coming for me big time... guns blazing. I don’t care, it won’t stop me.
“The ANC can’t accept that they might not be in office after the elections.”
On the money owed to the municipality, Welgemoed said that after the auction, he asked the council if he can transfer the properties to his development trust (Melkhout Ontwikkeling Trust). The auction, he said, took place in 2004.
“The trust has been dormant for 13 years.
“Every election, this issue is raised then it goes away, then comes up again. Yes, there is a dormant trust which is bankrupt and owes the municipality more than R600 000 ... I don’t even know what the amount is. There is just no way I’m going to pay tax rates on a dormant trust. It’s just not going to happen.
“Beaufort West is in a financial crisis because the councillors mismanaged the council and stole funds.
“The allegations against me are false. I cannot disagree that the trust owes the municipality money, but the trust is bankrupt ... It’s like a business that didn’t work,” Welgemoed said.
Independent Media is in possession of information that the matter was referred to the Hawks, but was unable to receive a response at the time of publishing.