Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has denounced the Umzimkhulu Hall project as a vehicle to funnel money to local officials and business allies. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency/ANA
Durban - The public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwe­bane, has called on the Hawks to investigate whether “the root causes” and “motivations” behind the killings of Umzimkhulu politicians were linked to tenders awarded for the building of the Umzimkhulu Hall.

In her final investigation report on the hall upgrade released last week, she denounced the project as a vehicle to funnel money to local officials and business allies.

She called for an investigation into leaders of the rural KwaZulu-­Natal town of Umzimkhulu who were involved in the project, which contractors have failed to complete despite the expenditure of millions.

Mkhwebane also requested that a report with an action plan indicating timelines be submitted to her by early January.

According to her report on the Umzimkhulu Hall, officials improperly awarded the contract to renovate it and also failed to obtain the proper permits to work on a heritage building.

In July last year, three ANC councillors of the Umzimkhulu Municipality were shot while together at a local shop. PR councillor Sindiso Magaqa, ward 11 councillor Nonsikelelo Mafa and ward 16 councillor Jabu Mzizi were shot outside a general dealer in the Ibisi area.

The shootings followed the killings of three other councillors in the area earlier that year.

Shortly afterwards the Hawks announced they had set up a special task team to probe the shooting.

Magaqa, the former ANC Youth League secretary-general, and his allies had been locked in a battle with an ANC faction in Umzimkhulu and it was suggested that his murder was related to him being outspoken about the hall project.

He had leaked official documents that showed that the municipality had continued to pay a contractor and subcontractor even though the project was far behind schedule and making little progress.

Anti-corruption activist and whistle-blower Thabiso Zulu said he noted the public protector’s report “with jubilation”.

“We have tears in our eyes knowing that it took martyrs to die for corruption to be exposed, but we also have smiles on our faces knowing that the struggle we waged was not in vain.

“We continue to fear for our lives, even more now after the release of this report.

“Surely the political gangsters hurt by these damning revelations will not take this lying down,” Zulu said.

Mkhwebane said that supply chain management policies should be reviewed and amended within 60 days of her report.

The Mercury