Port Elizabeth - An African National Congress (ANC) councillor from Nelson Mandela Bay was convicted on a charges of fraud and money laundering in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court on Friday after he pocketed R20 000 of donation money meant for a non-governmental organisation rendering services for the elderly.
Bongo Nombiba, a councillor for ward 20, was acquitted on two counts of corruption. His conviction is not likely to affect the ANC numbers in terms of a motion expected to be tabled at council by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on April 6 to remove Athol Trollip as the mayor of the Metro.
The ANC has already indicated that they would support the motion sponsored by the EFF to get Trollip ousted from City Hall.
Sentencing proceedings for Nombiba is set to take place on April 26, and according to City Manager Johan Mettler, Nombiba's employment as a ward councillor largely depends on the sentence to be passed down by the court.
"If he [Nombiba ] is sentenced to 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine, he will automatically become ineligible to be a councillor," Mettler said.
Mettler said the matter may also be referred to the Rules and Ethics Committee if the Code of Conduct has been transgressed.
The coalition government in the Metro, made up of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Congress of the People (COPE), and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), hold 59 seats of the total 120-members council.
The ANC together with the smaller opposition parties collectively hold 61 seats. In the last motion of no confidence against Trollip, he survived by the grace of the EFF's six votes. But, EFF leader Julius Malema recently announced his party would vote against Trollip if the ANC put forward a credible leader as its candidate for mayor, naming the likes of former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas. If the ANC heeds to this, the EFF will use its voting power in the Nelson Mandela Bay Council to get the ANC back into power.
At the last council meeting which saw Trollip retain his position a mayor, opposition parties in the Metro, including the ANC, the United Democratic Movement (UDM), African Independent Congress (AIC), the United Front (UF), and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) voted to have Trollip ousted.
During judgment on Friday, Magistrate Johannes Claassen said Nombiba did not have a good demeanor in the witness box during his trial.
"He was argumentative and evasive to the extent that he had to be warned by the court. I dismiss his bare denial as not reasonably and possibly true. I find that he did make misrepresentations to the municipality," said Claassen.
Claassen found the councillor pocketed the money fraudulently, adding that Nombiba went on to make arrangements to conceal the transactions.
The Thulamangwane Community Project is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and renders services such as caring for elderly people and cleaning schools in the community.
In 2014, the NGO's secretary, Zukiswa Mbhem, and its deputy chairperson, Mandisa Monco, together with other members, approached Nombiba to request a donation of R10 000 from the municipality to assist them financially.
The councillor instructed the NGO members to put their request in writing but not to mention the amount that they had requested.
During September 2014, a “Request for Donation” was prepared and signed by both the secretary as well as deputy chairperson.
The request was for a donation and no amount was mentioned. Nombiba then sent a request for financial assistance from the Metro and motivated a donation of R 30 000 for the organisation.
During November 2014, an amount of R30 000 was paid into the bank account of the NGO. Nombiba conveyed to the NGO management that the Metro approved the donation and requested them to accompany him to the bank where he pocketed R20 000 of the money.
The case was postponed to April 26 for sentencing proceedings.
African News Agency/ANA