Phumlani Mkolo lifted by his supporters following the announcement of his victory. Photo: ANA

EAST LONDON - The ANC in the Dr WB Rubusana region in the Eastern Cape has elected regional secretary Phumlani Mkolo, who faces fraud and corruption charges related to the scandal surrounding the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela, as its new regional chairman.

Mkolo received 120 votes, defeating current Buffalo City metro mayor Xola Pakati, who got 107 votes. 

His victory could see Pakati axed as mayor following a heated contest between them. During his victory speech, Mkolo suggested a need for change at the metro municipality without giving further details.

Mkolo faces fraud and corruption charges related to Mandela's funeral. His 10 co-accused include former Buffalo City mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, her former deputy Themba Tinta, municipal councillors, employees and business people, and three entities linked to the accused.

According to the charge sheet, it is alleged that Mkolo and his co-accused siphoned-off millions of rand from the Buffalo City metro under the false pretence that the money was meant to cover events related to Mandela's funeral. About R5.9 million was allegedly channelled from the Buffalo City municipality into various bank accounts of the accused. 

A further R4.1 million was stopped by former Buffalo City municipal manager Andile Fani, who was on leave when the first amount was paid. An investigation Fani instituted uncovered the alleged fraud. 

Last year Mkolo and two co-accused Zintle Nkuhlu and Nosiphiwo Mati successfully applied for the separation of their trial from the rest of the accused. 

They have also made representations to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for the charges against them to be dropped. 

They will appear again in the East London Magistrate's Court on October 19.

* Receive IOL's top stories via Whatsapp by sending your name to 0745573535.

African News Agency (ANA)