Picture: Supplied.
Picture: Supplied.

Troubled times for George municipality

By Tshego Lepule Time of article published Dec 22, 2019

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IT’S been a tough year for the George municipality, with various investigations of allegations of fraud.

The DA-run council made headlines as it grappled with allegations and probes from the Hawks and the provincial government.

In July, the Hawks swooped on the municipality where offices and the homes of certain individuals were raided. The investigations related to allegations of fraud and corruption regarding failure to follow due process involving vacant posts.

In April last year, the Hawks also raided municipal offices and confiscated electronic equipment and documents for investigations into fraud and corruption relating to the awarding of tenders.

In September, MEC of Local Government Anton Bredell ordered an investigation to focus on the George Integrated Public Transport Network and irregular appointments made by the municipality.

In November, the council voted to suspend municipal manager, Trevor Botha and director of protection services, Steven Erasmus for 60 days while allegations of financial misconduct were probed.

Now the municipality may have to institute disciplinary action against Botha and others after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found the appointment of Randal van Staden as manager for the sewer network back in 2017 amounted to maladministration.

The report found that Van Staden’s appointment was unfair and not in accordance with relevant legislation and regulations for recruitment.

This follows a complaint by Rayno van Rooi, who had applied for the position together with Van Staden in August 2016, who alleged that he had met the full requirements for the position, including being registered as a professional engineering technician at the time of the application while the successful candidate only got registered after his appointment.

In her report, Mkhwebane stated that mayor Melvin Naik must conduct an analysis of Van Staden’s qualifications, experience, and establish whether they meet the requirements for the position he holds.

The municipality, however stated that they referred the matter to their legal counsel.

Van Rooi said he was happy with the outcome of investigations.

“I also knew that the chances of my being appointed would not have been possible. But for me, being born in George, I had always wanted to work in my municipality and make contributions there,” he said.

“I worked until I got to a level I felt I could bring value to my hometown, and that chance was taken away from me by people who made decisions that did not follow due process for whatever reasons.”

Van Rooi said he was seeking legal advice in the matter.

“I’m actually consulting with some attorneys to see how we can take this matter forward. I understand that the public protector’s office has their own processes to follow and while her findings did not speak to redress directed at me, I want to see if there is anything that can be done legally to get compensated,” he added.

He said there was no transparency within the municipality.

“It’s being run like an apartheid-style regime where the government is not accessible to the people,” Van Rooi said.

Weekend Argus

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