File image: Siri Hardeland

Johannesburg - The Special Investigating Unit’s long awaited probe into maladministration in the Midvaal Local Municipality has eventually been completed after nearly three years, but whether anyone will be charged remains to be seen. President Jacob Zuma called for the probe in May 2011 and the investigation has been running ever since.

SIU spokesman Boy Ndala told The Sunday Independent this week that lawyers were evaluating the evidence obtained to determine whether anyone involved was suspected of having committed a crime.

“If that is what they conclude, the evidence will be forwarded to the national director of public prosecutions with a recommendation that the person or persons be prosecuted,” he said.

Ndala would not be drawn on the findings, saying his unit would submit the report to Zuma – possibly before the end of April – who could decide whether to make the report or parts of it available to anyone else.

The investigation looked into allegations of maladministration by councillors and employees, the flouting of supply-chain-management procedures and the procurement of services from the legal firm Odendaal Summerton, which acted on behalf of the municipality and debt collectors for more than 10 years.

The finalisation of the investigation has been postponed several times. It was widely criticised as being Zuma’s attempt to discredit one of the DA’s municipalities by using state machinery.

In October 2011 Zuma, in response to a Parliamentary question on the progress of the unit’s investigations, said the probe would be completed by August 2012. That did not happen and a new completion date of August last year was given.

The investigation follows a similar probe by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of maladministration in the municipality.

In her report, Madonsela found the municipality had breached financial and administrative policies by retaining Odendaal and Summerton for 30 years without going through proper procedures.

One of the firm’s directors, Andre Odendaal, was also the DA Midvaal chairman throughout the tender procedure. He has since resigned as DA chairman in Midvaal.

Odendaal, meanwhile, won a defamation case against two of the whistleblowers and the Freedom Front Plus party.

Last month the Meyerton Magistrate’s Court found former DA councillor Kobus Hoffman, Freedom Front Plus councillor Corrie Pypers, and the Freedom Front Plus party guilty of defaming Odendaal and his practice, Odendaal Summerton, ordering them to pay R670 000 damages.

Hoffman, Pypers and the Freedom Front Plus are appealing the outcome.

At the centre of their dispute is that Odendaal deceived the court in his attempt to win the defamation case.

Odendaal’s alleged defamation case was based on a statement the Freedom Front Plus had made in Parliament implicating him in Midvaal and on documentation that Hoffman had provided to various Section 9 entities.

In 2012, shortly after the case was filed, Hoffman, Pypers and the Freedom Front Plus’s defence was struck off the court record because they failed to provide further particulars at the time.

But, according to papers filed for their appeal, the three say that the magistrate erred in his findings because when he made the order, in March 2012, the correct facts were not before him.

Odendaal, they allege, concealed the fact that the particulars were provided on November 9, 2011 and once again on March 15, 2012.

The magistrate also ignored correspondence between Odendaal and their lawyers in which they acknowledged receiving the further particulars but allege that the further particulars were not complete.

Odendaal alleges that the magistrate gave an order on January 30, 2012 that further particulars must be provided but that to date the order has not been fulfilled.

“This is not correct because further particulars were indeed provided on March 15, 2012.”

He said no deadline had been given for the further particulars to be provided.

They argue that it is not for Odendaal’s legal team to decide if these particulars are complete or or not, it is the court’s decision, and they say Odendaal was supposed to bring an application to force the proper documentation to be produced.

The damages awarded by the magistrate are excessively high and not in line with similar matters, they argue.

It is not the first time that Odendaal is accused of concealing information.

In her report in 2011, Madonsela found that statements Odendaal made to the Law Society of the Northern Provinces were untrue.

He had allegedly told the society that there was no merit in the complaints made by Pypers and that no action would be taken against him.

She also found that similar statements Odendaal made in the South Gauteng High Court were untrue.

At the time Madonsela said Odendaal’s conduct needed to be dealt with but the Law Society has postponed its investigation until the outcome of the SUI’s probe.

Odendaal on Saturday said the appeal was a mechanism to buy time until after the elections.

He said there was no basis to the appeal as the defendants had not provided the further particulars needed, but instead had provided a response.

Hewas tallying his legal costs – which he was also awarded – and this would take the claim to well over R900 000. These costs would not be appealable.

Odendaal said there was a personal vendetta against him and that when pushed into a corner, his detractors had no evidence of wrongdoing on his part.

[email protected]

Sunday Independent