The man, identified by Interpol only as "Mike," is believed to be the leader of an international email scam.

Durban - A crude, racist e-mail purported to have been sent by a disgruntled senior Dundee municipal official to a family member has got tongues wagging in the KwaZulu-Natal town after it was widely circulated.

But the man at the centre of the storm - acting executive corporate services manager Desiga Padayachee - has hotly denied he sent it, telling the Daily News on Monday that he had been set up.

Padayachee, a final year law student who has been in the acting position in Endumeni Local Municipality since March, felt he was being targeted after being tasked with leading a disciplinary inquiry into alleged corruption and tender rigging involving about 10 senior managers.

The e-mail, apparently sent from Padayachee’s work e-mail address to a cousin, purports to show his anger at the council for not making his post permanent.

A copy of the e-mail, with the name of the intended recipient blacked out, was sent to the Daily News on Monday by a source.

It reads: “My item was not passed but I’m hoping these cakes can make a plan and organise my promotion as promised… That fat useless b****** got a call from Cogta (KZN Department Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs)…

“The MEC instructed him to withdraw my item. F*** Cogta, that a******* of a speaker should not have allowed that fat b**** and cock-eye to stumble my item… I’ve put a lot of time and money in for these k****** and its time I get my pay back as promised… They mustn’t think they can use this charou and dispose when they done, I will f*** them up all up nicely”.

The e-mail, which has spread widely in the town since it emerged last Thursday, has been described as fabricated by Padayachee.

He claimed there was a faction that supported the municipal manager, TP Biyela, who was suspended in March for allegedly illegally appointing 22 senior officials in the municipality.

A team of four managers, including Padayachee, has temporarily replaced Biyela.

The regional chairman of the SA Municipal Workers Union, Themba Ndlela, said the e-mail had the “potential to divide our people”. “After 20 years we can’t have people using that sort of language… We are also expecting Cogta to do something about this,” he said.

The union has reported the matter to its provincial leadership and is awaiting a directive.

Ndlela accused the council of wanting to appoint Padayachee, a former member of the union who left earlier this year, without advertising the post of corporate services manager.

Endumeni speaker, Sduduzo Mdluli, confirmed that Padayachee had been tasked with leading the disciplinary process.

He said the municipality was in the process of regaining its pride by investigating corrupt officials.

“Sometimes we have to take decisions that people will not like. There are people who have to be disciplined and Mr Padayachee has been given that task,” Mdluli said. “The conspiracy that he has led the attack (on staff) is not true. He has been tasked.”

While the municipality would be investigating the origin of the e-mail, this would not affect the ongoing disciplinary action being taken against municipal officials, he said.

Cogta spokesman, Lennox Mabaso, said the department would not deal with “faceless e-mails”. However, he condemned the racist language used, saying the municipality should investigate the matter internally.

Padayachee said he had laid a charge of intimidation after two men came to his office and threatened him after he told them he would not be commenting on the e-mail.

“I said to them I will not respond because the e-mail is so crude and I would never do that. I’m in my final year of my law degree, I would never do that,” he told the Daily News.

“They left and told me they will sort me out by June and the speaker would be next.”

Padayachee said he was being targeted because he was at the head of an investigation into alleged corruption involving roads and housing tenders, as well as the irregular appointment of senior municipal staff.

He said he was open to an investigation into the authenticity and the root of the e-mail and was confident that he would be cleared of any wrongdoing.

Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, confirmed a case of intimidation had been lodged at the Dundee police station. He said no arrests had been made.