The City of Cape Town has brought criminal charges against the consultant who was paid R1 200 an hour for work done on the botched Jewellery City project.

The charges against Thabo Mokoena, who for the past six months has been working in Parliament as deputy Speaker Nomaindia Mfeketo’s adviser, relates to tenders awarded for the R18-million project, which never materialised.

The city seeks to recover R1,2m from Mokoena. He was at the centre of the controversy surrounding the proposed central Cape Town Jewellery City development, and was ordered to pay R1,2m in a default judgment in the city’s favour.

Yesterday city spokeswoman Kylie Hatton said the case was with the commercial crime unit, after earlier attempts to locate Mokoena and have him pay back the money failed: “City manager (Achmat Ebrahim) confirms that the matter is with the SAPS and has been for a while.”

Police spokesman November Philander said he could not immediately say what charges had been lodged against the former chief executive officer of the South African Local Government Association (Salga), who earned R4,2m during the nine months he was employed as a consultant.

In September Independent Newspapers broke the story that Mokoena was back in the city, where he had been appointed adviser to Mfeketo.

Hatton said: “Now that we have located him, we are hopeful that we would get him to pay. We wouldn’t pursue the case if we were not confident.”

Mokoena could not be reached for comment. When Mfeketo was asked yesterday if she was aware that Mokoena had been charged, she said yesterday: “That’s an old story. I’m in a meeting.”

Executive director of the deputy Speaker’s office Peter Lebeko also refused to comment.

In 2006, when the DA had won control of the city from the ANC-led council under Mfeketo as mayor, the saga spilt over into a public row. The DA launched an investigation into, among others, the Jewellery City contracts.

News of Mokoena’s return to high office was met with outrage from political parties at the time. Both Cope and the Independent Democrats expressed their “shock”.

ID leader Patricia de Lille said then: “People who are alleged to have done wrong must not be given a second opportunity to work in the public sector.”

Later, Mfeketo defended his appointment, saying Mokoena had been selected because of his “expertise”.

On Friday, Parliament’s spokeswoman Estelle Randall said: “Mokoena was still employed because his contract has not ended.”

“His hourly rate is based on the fee rates for consultants, published by the Department of Public Service and Administration and is pegged at level 12/13.” Such employees earned R605 593 to R796 710 a year depending on the contract. - Cape Times