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Hawks launch inquiry into suspended Mhlathuze Water CEO and CFO

The Mhlathuze Water Board had commissioned a forensic probe and hired a private investigator to do some digging. Picture: Mhlathuze Water Board/Facebook

The Mhlathuze Water Board had commissioned a forensic probe and hired a private investigator to do some digging. Picture: Mhlathuze Water Board/Facebook

Published Jun 27, 2022

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Durban - The Hawks have launched an inquiry that implicates two senior officials of the troubled Richards Bay-based Mhlathuze Water Board, which has in the past few years been tainted by allegations of graft.

The inquiry by the Hawks has dragged in suspended Mhlathuze water board chief executive, Mthokozisi Duze and Babongile Mnyandu, the entity’s chief financial officer, who is also on suspension.

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It is not clear what exactly prompted the inquiry that could lead to a full-blown investigation and prosecution.

It is worth noting that for now, this is an inquiry, not an investigation.

It is known that Duze has been on the watch list of the Hawks after a whistleblower wrote a letter to the crime-fighting unit and alleged that he was developing a mansion in the exclusive and lush suburb of Mtunzini, along the N2, near Richards Bay.

The whistleblower alleged in his letter that Duze was financing the development through cash and that raised suspicions that the money could have been illegally obtained.

The letter to the Hawks was sent early this year and it came at a time when the Mhlathuze Water Board had commissioned a forensic probe and hired a private investigator to do some digging.

The information about the inquiry is contained in two letters which have been served to two Durban-based law firms where a Hawks investigator is requesting certain invoices and information, which he believes could give him more insight.

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According to the confidential court documents (the matter was not heard in an open court), the request for information appears to have been ignored by the directors of the law firms.

The Hawks investigator who cannot be named for security reasons, had to ask the courts to assist him through legal avenues.

“You are hereby required to appear in person before me or any other magistrate in the Durban Magistrate Court on the 26 May 2022 at 8:30am to be examined by the Public Prosecutor duly authorised thereto about all that you may know about the alleged offence with fraud, corruption and money, suspected to have been committed by suspects… Mthokozisi Duze, Babongile Mnyandu…,” reads part of the subpoena which was issued in terms of section 205 act 51 of 1977.

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The subpoena further states that should the summoned director of the law firm furnish the information in advance, and the public prosecutor is convinced that full disclosure is made, he is not under any obligation to make the appearance.

The directors of the two law firms did not respond to questions sent to them by IOL regarding the matter.

Duze said he is not aware of any investigation against him but he is only aware of a Hawks inquiry against him - which was eventually closed.

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Mnyandu claimed total ignorance, saying she knows nothing about the matter, while the spokesperson of the Hawks, Brigadier Nomthandazo Mbambo said they would not like to comment on an ongoing matter.

“The Hawks will not be drawn into commenting on any ongoing investigations until the matter has been brought before the NPA and a decision taken on whether to prosecute or not,” she said.

Regarding the charges preferred against Duze and Mnyandu, the spokesperson for Mhlathuze water, Siyabonga Maphumulo, said they cannot divulge them since that will prejudice the accused parties.

“We cannot discuss the exact specifics of the charges beyond stating that they relate to maladministration and financial misconduct. As this is an internal disciplinary matter, we would not like to prejudice those implicated by divulging the exact nature of the charges to external parties, prior to those charged having had their chance to respond to the charges levelled against them on a disciplinary platform.

In the best interests of the organisation as well as those implicated, we would like the disciplinary process to proceed without delay. However, this must also be a thorough and fair process. Once complete, and as we did with the investigation, we will take the media and the public into our confidence by releasing the disciplinary outcomes,” Maphumulo said.

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