Hawks swoop on Bobani's home over NMB tender fraud
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Port Elizabeth - The raids that were undertaken by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) at the office and home of Mayor Mongameli Bobani is related to allegations of tender fraud and corruption within the Nelson Mandela Metro between 2015 and 2017.
Hawks spokesman, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, said the ongoing investigation was “separate” to that of the investigation into the running of the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS).
Mulaudzi said that more raids would be carried out in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday at undisclosed locations involving other individuals.
He said the search and seizure operation would probably continue up until the end of the week.
“It relates to an investigation to procurement fraud, corruption, money laundering and theft case which allegedly occurred at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality which took place between July 2015 - July 2017.”
On Tuesday, Bobani's wife's laptop was seized at their home in Kwamagxaki.
Bobani's lawyer, Danie Gouws, said that he believed there was a political ploy against the mayor.
"I mean how many times can a person be searched?
"You must remember, it's elections. You have Athol Trollip opening cases and making speeches at the Humewood Police Station. I think in the run-up to May 8 more cases will be opened," said Gouws of the upcoming general elections.
Bobani later called a press conference and made allegations that the Democratic Alliance (DA) were “collaborating” with the Hawks to dig up dirt on him.
Bobani said a member of the Hawks was deliberately orchestrating a plot with the DA to get him booted from office.
“The Hawks must stay away from politics. I’m not saying they mustn’t investigate me, I’m a human being. There’s no allegations against me, I’m not a suspect. Why are these people coming here every day?
“(A Hawks investigator) summoned a person into the office of a lawyer. He informed that person as the Hawks, we want anything you can find against the mayor. And that person told him I have nothing against the mayor.. he [investigator] said to that man, don’t worry Mr Trollip will be Mayor again. So Mr Trollip will take care of you,” Bobani claimed.
Mulaudzi said that the Hawks would not entertain Bobani’s claims.
“If he is aggrieved he can lay a complaint with the public protector. There are many places where he can lay a complaint,” said Mulaudzi.
Mulaudzi said the Hawks would not be drawn into a “political current” and used as a “pawn”.
“If he has evidence, that’s fine, let him put it in front of a court. But a case has been opened and we have to follow up on that,” he concluded.
In October last year, the Hawks raided PE City Hall with a search warrant and seized documents and computers from the municipality. It is alleged that the Hawks were investigating the municipality's IPTS.
At the time Mulaudzi said the investigation related to fraud, corruption and money laundering.
In 2013, Bobani applied to the Port Elizabeth High Court for the suspension of then city manager Dr Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela, accusing her of being unqualified for the job. The court dismissed the application and Bobani was ordered to pay costs.
Msengana-Ndlela, who was headhunted for the post, came with academic and extensive managerial experience both in the provincial and national government. At the time she wanted to cancel a dubious contract, which had to do with the introduction of public transportation.
According to The Herald, Port Elizabeth attorney David Le Roux detailed in a statement how a former assistant director in Nelson Mandela Bay metro’s finance department had asked the lawyer to facilitate payment from IPTS coffers to finance Bobani’s legal fees.
Bobani, however, denies this saying that he paid for his own legal fees as he had worked and received a salary as a councillor for many years.
African News Agency (ANA)