OR Tambo Municipality worker arrested for allegedly colluding to steal Covid funds
Eastern Cape - The Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit have pounced on an OR Tambo Municipality employee who allegedly colluded with a service provider to steal Covid-19 funds.
Johnson Phumzile Gwadiso was arrested in connection with his role in colluding with the service provider in defrauding the municipality.
He was arrested by the Hawks on Friday and appeared in court where he was released on R50 000 bail. The case was remanded until January 25 for further investigation.
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the arrest followed an investigation by the SIU into allegations of corruption and maladministration relating to the “door to door” campaign.
After the issuing of Proclamation R.23 of 2020 to broadly investigate various allegations relating to state institutions’ use of Covid-19 emergency funding, numerous allegations were received by SIU through their business development teams in various provinces.
He said there were also news reports that detailed how funds intended to fight the coronavirus pandemic had been used irregularly.
“One such instance appeared on the Facebook Group: Izindaba-Ditaba-News under the post of ’Eastern Cape Politicians at it again...’ where it was alleged that a company called Phathilizwi Training Institute charged the OR Tambo Municipality in the Eastern Cape more than R3 million for a 'door to door awareness about Covid-19' to the locals,” he said.
Kganyago said SIU’s investigations found that the service provider had made a misrepresentation when they were submitting invoices by, among others, claiming that they had trained a substantial number of community members and submitting fraudulent attendance registers and invoices to the municipality for payment.
“Certain senior municipal officials colluded with the service provider by certifying that the work was done and confirming the rate charged was in line with time spent during the awareness campaign and the rate agreed to in the original contract.
“The officials certified that the services were rendered when, in fact, they knew that this was not true. The said officials even recommended the payment of these invoices with falsified dates,” Kganyago said.
He said the discovery of false claims led to the arrest of Gwadiso.
Kganyago said the SIU have recommended that civil proceedings be instituted in the Special Tribunal to cancel the contract and to recover monies lost by the municipality.
He also said criminal acts were referred to the National Prosecuting Authority.