Samwu officials held over ‘missing’ R178m

Samwu leaders maintain that the arrest of top union officials is a political plot. File picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Samwu leaders maintain that the arrest of top union officials is a political plot. File picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Published Oct 18, 2015

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Johannesburg - SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) officials allegedly used a lawyer’s bank account to steal millions from the union’s coffers and channel them into it, claiming the money was “legal fees”.

This week, the Hawks swooped on the union officials and arrested them while they were meeting in connection with the disappearance of R178m from their coffers. Some of the money was also transferred into a bank account of a lawyer who did not exist.

The group also allegedly blew the funds in the union’s credit card, paying for accommodation for their families and friends.

Samwu, deputy general general secretary Moses Miya, a legal officer, Surprise Mnisi and Zukiswa Ntsiko, a finance administrator, appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Johannesburg charged with fraud and theft.

In March, Samuel Phaswane was the first person to be arrested in connection with the missing millions in the union’s coffers.

He was charged in connections with fraud involving R8m.

Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said: “We view issues of corruption and theft in a very serious light.

“This matter was brought to our attention last year in May. Although we have only arrested three officials, more are imminent,” he said.

Following the arrests this week, Samwu leaders accused the police of being used in a political ploy by its former leaders.

On Saturday, Samwu president Pule Molalenyane maintained that this was nothing, but just “a political plot”. He added that when the head office was raided, there were a lot of flaws in the search warrant.

Molalenyane said the raid took place towards the end of the month when staff were supposed to be paid their salaries. The raid “was aimed at embarrassing the new leadership, that’s my take”.

According to a well-placed source, who wanted to remain anonymous, the money – between R1,4m and R2m – was transferred almost every month into the lawyer’s account and then split among the group.

An insider said some of the officials colluded and generated invoices with no invoice numbers purporting to be from the lawyer.

The Sunday Independent can reveal some of the money was used to book flights and hotel accommodation for family and friends.

The scandal over the missing millions has led to a split in Samwu. The Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union was launched last month by some of the 100 members and leaders who were expelled from Samwu for allegedly exposing alleged corruption.

The Sunday Independent

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