Bonga Majola File picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA Pictures

Johannesburg - A Gauteng government official has laid a criminal charge of fraud against his political boss, MEC Ismail Vadi, for allegedly failing to stop the abuse of public funds by officials in his department.

The charge against Vadi followed after the Roads and Transport Department allegedly paid a law firm more than R600 000 to fight against the reinstatement of the official, Bonga Majola, to his job in the department. He was acquitted in August last year of an internal disciplinary charge against him but the department took the matter for review in the Labour Court.

In his charge Majola, who is chief director of Registration and Operating Licensing in the department, alleges Vadi committed an offence in contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 12 of 2004. A similar charge was also laid against Roads and Transport’s head of department Ronald Swartz.

The Star has seen the original charge and sworn statement against them, laid on July 3 in the Johannesburg Central police station.

Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini confirmed that a case of fraud was opened.

Gauteng Roads and Transport spokeswoman Melitah Madiba said the law firm was appointed through departmental supply chain management processes. Madiba did not respond to allegations that the department paid the firm R600 000, saying the matter was still under investigation by the Gauteng Provincial Treasury.

Majola claims that Vadi had failed to act when he reported the alleged abuse of public funds on February 1 this year. Majola said he sought Vadi’s intervention when Swartz appointed the law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, to represent the department in the internal disciplinary case against him. He said that at the time of its appointment, the same company was appointed to hear another disciplinary case against another chief director, Loyiso Marasela.

Majola told the police that the simultaneous appointments were in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

After his acquittal in August last year, Majola said he wrote to Vadi on August 29, requesting him to conduct an investigation regarding the irregular and wasteful expenditure allegedly caused by Swartz when he appointed the law firm without first complying with the provisions of the PFMA and the National Treasury regulations.

He said despite his letter, the same firm was chosen on September 14 to review his acquittal in the Labour Court. He argues that the appointment was made without the approval of the Gauteng Treasury, saying “Swartz did not obtain prior written approval from the Gauteng Provincial Treasury, before appointing or reappointing Norton Rose Fulbright in September 2016. And thus making all related expenditures in this regard irregular, fruitless and wasteful.

“On February 1, 2017, I furnished the MEC, Hon Ismail Vadi, with details of non-compliance with procurement processes and irregular appointments of service providers. Those details included, on September 2016, the irregular appointment of Mr Joe Mothibi and Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa. To date, no report has been given in this regard.

“On June 7, 2017, despite not obtaining prior written approval from Gauteng Provincial Treasury, for the appointment of Mr Joe Mothibi and Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, Swartz instructed the directorate of Labour Relations by e-mail that an irregular payment of more than R600 000 be made to Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa... Vadi was made aware of the irregularities and the violation of a legal duty, but did not act. The MEC has acted in contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004,” Majola told the police.

Madiba said their department was still pursuing the review application against Majola and it is “in a process of appointing counsel... through its prescribed SCM process”.

The Star