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The SA Local Government Association (Salga) says it welcomes reports that the Hawk’s National Clean Audit Task Team is closing in on municipalities across provinces in its clean-up campaign against corruption and malfeasance.

Weekend reports quoted Hawk’s head Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya saying the unit arrested 14 suspects and was closing in on more politicians and municipalities which would soon be “visited” by the Hawks.

Asked if Salga supported the position taken by the Hawks and to what extent this would help the association in promoting good governance, president and Polokwane mayor Thembi Nkadimeng said she welcomed law enforcement agencies that wanted to come to their municipalities and look into “our books, activities, or work that was issued out and that they think need to be investigated”.

“Remember, the money translates into services that municipalities must offer. Remember in my speech in Parliament, we committed to the president that Salga is for a clean government. Clean government translates into services directed to the people and remember the services we offer as municipalities are exactly direct basic services that each household needs.

“It’s refuse removal, waste collection, water, roads so good governance and ensuring that our governance in municipalities is proper and clean. We are a pro-good government and the elimination of corruption.

“We also encourage our municipalities to lead by example and the agents that promote clean government and are not architects of corruption.”

Below are some of the allegations of corruption that made headlines involving municipalities in all nine provinces that the Hawks might consider looking into.

However, national spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi wouldn’t be drawn into confirming specific cases and provinces.

“We have a task team that looks in all provinces. We won’t say which municipalities we are at. I don’t want to give details because once we give details then we will be shooting ourselves in the foot as people are going to write what they want. Our investigations remain confidential,” Mulaudzi said.

Here are some of the recent cases that made headlines:

At the JB Marks municipality in the North West, R1.7million was allegedly transferred from one of the municipal accounts into another account from a computer in the municipal offices in Potchefstroom.

The possible theft was reported by one of the municipal officials.

Captain Rikhotso of the Provincial Hawks was quoted in the Klerksdorp News that it was investigating allegations of fraud and corruption within the municipality.

In Limpopo, it was reported last year that seven municipalities were on the brink of insolvency and could be placed under administration after they lost hundreds of millions of rands in the VBS Mutual Bank investment scheme. Initial reports said 10 municipalities in the province invested with VBS. However, three heeded a call from the National Treasury and withdrew their funds. The bank was placed under liquidation following an order by the North Gauteng High Court.

In KwaZulu-Natal, Bheka Nxumalo, the nephew of the mayor of Ubuhlebezwe Municipality at Ixopo, David Nxumalo, has alleged that his uncle used him as a front for his company ZDN Trading Enterprise that was awarded a R3m tender in 2014. He also accused him of nepotism and tender fraud.

A daily newspaper reported that provincial Hawks spokesperson Simphiwe Mhlongo advised Bheka to go to the police.

This is not the first time the uncle and nephew tender relationship story has hit the headlines.

In 2014, Business Report wrote that a KwaZulu-Natal company run by Bheka, then an 18-year-old matric pupil, won a municipal tender for nearly R800000 to build a gravel road in a southern KwaZulu-Natal town, raising eyebrows. The company, ZDN Trading, which it was said belongs to Nxumalo, was awarded the tender by the Sisonke district municipality to build a gravel road near Highflats.

In the Vaal in Gauteng, the Emfuleni Local Municipality mayor Simon Mofokeng’s allegedly squandered R1.7m on KFC, Nandos and hotel bills.

DA members took to the streets in June 2017 at the Vanderbijlpark licence department, calling for Mofokeng to step down.

Mofokeng stepped down in November 2017, but it’s still not clear if there was a probe on these allegations and what the outcome was.

The City of Tshwane undertook a probe in 2018 into allegations that municipal manager Moeketsi Mosola unlawfully awarded a tender to engineering consultancy GladAfrica to oversee infrastructure projects.

The ANC, which is the official opposition, called for an investigation after it was reported that Mosola hand-picked a company from a list of service providers he obtained from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, suggesting he failed to follow legal procurement processes.

ANC regional chairperson Kgosi Maepa alleged the scandal was the biggest in the history of local government.

New Tshwane mayor Stevens Mokgalapa in February announced that the city had terminated its controversial contract with GladAfrica.

Mokgalapa says that the contract will come to an end in June.

More than R300m has already been paid to the company.

Sunday Independent