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Emfuleni Local Municipality speaker Maipato Tsokodibane read the riot act and promised no favouritism when taking action against officials implicated in a damning forensic report.

The 2017/18 report, which was compiled by forensic company Comperio Consulting, highlights areas of weakness leading to the loss of R872 million in unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure within the embattled municipality that is currently under administration. The money was spent on irregular contracts, including lease and security contracts.

Tsokodibane, who addressed the media at the municipality’s offices on Thursday, said the forensic report was presented in a council meeting sitting for finalisation last week.

“The report came and there were recommendations. One of the recommendations made is that those who are implicated will be referred to the disciplinary board so that they can be suspended, expelled or open a criminal case against them,” said Tsokodibane.

Emfuleni is among the worst-performing municipalities in the country and has been in the spotlight for deteriorating service delivery and alleged corruption.

In his 2017/18 municipal audit report, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu revealed that the municipality’s books were not audited after one of the auditors was shot in the leg.

According to minutes seen by the Sunday Independent from the special council committee meeting held last week, committee members agreed that implicated officials be subjected to consequence management processes in accordance with the disciplinary board’s terms of reference.

The committee decided that the 12 implicated current and former employees, including acting municipal manager Oupa Nkoane, should account for the irregular expenditure set out in the forensic report and that there must be efforts to recover the amounts through an external legal process.

“But we are still waiting for the disciplinary board, and it consists of some of our officials, especially from legal and finance and external experts. Maybe in January we will be giving a report on what happened to all those implicated. We will be able to give a list of the people who have misused the public funds and whether they will be jailed or continue to work for us. We need to take back what they took from the municipality so that they can repay us,” she said.

“There is corruption, but for others it is just mismanagement. I don’t want to dispute the issue of corruption because there are those who know they benefited,” Tsokodibane said, adding that incompetency also contributed to the to the loss of R872m by the ailing municipality.

The forensic report shows how a security company, Mafoko, scored a payment bonanza of over R165m after its initial transversal contract was extended without the prescripts of the Municipal Finance Management Act being followed by officials, including Nkoane.

“We also said the mayor must take over and ensure that the issue of the municipal manager is being investigated further, said Tsokodibane.

Emfuleni’s DA caucus leader, Edward von Bodenstein said they were expecting mayor Gift Moerane to take action against Nkoane soon.

“Nkoane falls under his jurisdiction and he must take action. If he does not, he will be failing in his duties, and that won’t be good for him,” he said.

Sunday Independent