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Forensic probe unearths widespread looting at Uthukela district, councillors fight for report to be released

Published Jun 6, 2023


Ladysmith - A forensic investigation instituted by the IFP-run Uthukela district municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal has reportedly revealed widespread looting.

The existence of the report first came to light through a leaked letter seen by IOL.

The letter was written by DA Councillor Thys Janse van Rensburg.

The letter was directed to the municipal manager, Bongani Mnguni. Rensburg wanted the report to be made available to them.

This was because Mnguni only gave a verbal overview of the shenanigans, but Rensburg said they deserve to get the full written report.

“Councillors were informed of large-scale graft and corruption within the Uthukela district municipality.

“The revelations alluded to the involvement of staff, some of whom senior, as well as unscrupulous contractors.

“The amounts of irregular funds mentioned reached into hundreds of millions.

“The revelations came from only a small sample of contracts that were highlighted for investigation.

“I urgently request that all Uthukela Councillors receive a copy of the full Forensic Report that was tabled,” Rensburg wrote to Mnguni in a letter dated 5 June 2023.

Furthermore, Rensburg said there has been enough time to inform those implicated in the report.

“While one can argue that staff and other implicated entities should be given discretion, the fact remains that enough time has passed for the implicated parties to have been informed.

“The release of the forensic report will not impede any of their options, legal or otherwise.

“Therefore I request that the full forensic report be released to all Uthukela Councillors within 48 hours.

“Furthermore, I request that the Speaker of Uthukela call for an urgent sitting so that the forensic report can be debated, and the Municipal Manager can inform Councillors of his action plan regarding its recommendations,” Rensburg pleaded in his letter.

However, Mnguni told IOL that they were not yet ready to make it public until all implicated have been afforded an opportunity to plead their cases and say why they should not be suspended.

“The investigation was two fold, namely: Contract Management: looking at issues of compliance with legislation; performance of service providers.

“Fuel, Fleet; Maintenance and Repairs which was consuming R5.8m monthly without fail.

“The investigation was commissioned by Council and ratified by the Administrator (Nathi Madondo).

“Findings have unveiled that there were shenanigans on Contract Management.

“The latter investigation is still work in progress.

“Officials implicated have been issued letters of Intention to Suspend thus allowing them to submit their representations.

“Upon receiving this information a criminal case where the investigation has recommended that such should be the case.

“It will be premature to make this report a public document until officials have been officially charged,” Mnguni said when asked to shed light on the matter and the concerns raised by Rensburg.

The Uthukela district municipality which is anchored in Ladysmith and includes local municipalities like Okhahlamba (Bergville), Inkosi Langalibalele, and Alfred Duma (Ladysmith) has been under administration for the past few years.

At the time when it was placed under administration while it was led by the ANC which was later ousted in November 2021.

Most of the alleged corruption was related to water provision tenders and the provision of relief water tankers to affected areas.

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