Officials claim Bojanala mayor doctored their statements
The mayor of a cash-strapped North West municipality, which unduly spent part of the R134 million erroneously received from the provincial government, has been accused of doctoring documents to exonerate herself from liability.
Bojanala Platinum District Municipality (BPDM) mayor Fetsang Molosiwa allegedly fiddled with submissions from two senior officials - municipal manager Pogiso Shikwane and chief financial officer Olga Ndlovu - who implicated her in the scandal in order to mislead the council and clear her name.
This comes after Molosiwa suspended Shikwane and Ndlovu, whom she blamed for spending R84m of the R134m mistakenly deposited into the municipality’s account by the North West Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs (Coghta), in March this year.
The money was meant for the Rustenburg Local Municipality, which is part of the Bojanala district.
According to sources and official documents seen by the Sunday Independent:
BDPM - which is broke and battling to pay salaries - subsequently used R84m of the money for its own benefit.
It then transferred R50m to the Rustenburg municipality in July, and refunded the balance in two tranches of R25m and R59m on August 2 and August 23, respectively.
BDPM is among the poorest and badly run municipalities in the country. It received a fourth consecutive disclaimer audit opinion since the 2015/2016 financial year from the auditor-general’s office.
Molosiwa accused Shikwane and Ndlovu of having unduly spent the money without her knowledge and approval.
However, opposition parties represented in the Bojanala municipality accused the mayor of tempering with the duo’s representations on why they should not have been suspended, which implicated her.
They claimed she removed incriminating pages from the submissions she sent to council.
In a joint letter to North West Coghta MEC Gordon Kegakilwe, and copied to Treasury MEC Motlalepula Rosho, the DA, Force 4 Service Delivery (F4SD) and the EFF disputed the reasons given by Molosiwa for suspending the duo.
They asked Kegakilwe to intervene in the “maladministration and violation of standing prescripts governing local government” in the Bojanala municipality.
This by declaring that the October16 special council meeting “was not properly constituted, inquorate and thus declared unlawful and null and void”, among others.
“(Also) to direct that in writing to the speaker that an urgently convened special council be held to deal with the submissions of both the municipal manager and the chief financial officer, and to further instruct that the original furnished, unedited, undoctored
submission by them which implicate the executive mayor (Fetsang Molosiwa) be reintroduced properly and interrogated by councillors,” said part of the joint letter.
In his original submission, Shikwane rejected Molosiwa’s claims that she knew nothing about the R134m, saying “it was used at your behest”.
“Whilst you knew and directed as to how the money was to be used, the money was paid back to the Rustenburg municipality, and ultimately refunded to the entity that paid it to our municipality,” Shikwane said.
“No party suffered any prejudice in the entire process and I am taken aback as to what the issue is.
“I cannot be used as a scapegoat when the municipality is facing financial challenges I have not caused.”
Shikwane also implicated ANC MP and former Rustenburg mayor Matthews Wolmarans in the scandal.
He said Wolmarans told him and Molosiwa to spend the money, saying he was aware that “Bojanala was financially broke and that the municipality was approaching the election with a zero budget to operate (on)”.
“He even indicated that there is no way that Rustenburg municipality can complete RDP projects within two months before year end since it requires procurement process, firstly for a contractor which normally lasts at most 90 days.”
Wolmarans and Molosiwa failed to respond to requests for comment this week.
On Thursday, Molosiwa said she was driving and promised to respond later, which she failed to do.
BDPM has since rescinded Shikwane and Ndlovu’s suspensions on procedural grounds in a letter sent to the pair’s legal representatives, KE Maake Attorneys, on October 24.
However, Bojanala District Municipality spokesperson Archie Babeile reiterated that the duo remained
on suspension despite the rescindment.
“We rescinded the resolution because there were procedural flaws which we corrected afterwards,” said Babeile.
He said the probe into allegations of maladministration and financial misappropriation against Shikwane and Ndlovu would proceed.