Public Protector investigates Matlosana CFO graft complaint



Published May 19, 2024


The Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) entered the fray after a complaint was launched against corruption accused Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Matlosana Local Municipality and other officials within the municipality.

This follows a complaint filed to the Public Protector’s office on April 7, 2023, by Alias Muller, who identified himself as a Community Activist.

In the letter, Muller said that the complaint was about “gross irregularity” against the Matlosana officials, who are alleged to have “acted improperly” concerning a payment of close to R3 million to Variegated Pty Ltd.

Muller stated that one of the implicated officials alleged to be involved was CFO Ms Mercy Phetla.

Spokesperson for Public Protector, Khulu Phasiwe, confirmed that the Public Protector had received the complaint.

“The investigation into the matter is ongoing and still in its preliminary stages. Accordingly, section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994, prohibits the disclosure, by any person, of the contents of any document or record of any evidence given before the Office of the Public Protector during the investigation,” said Phasiwe.

Last month, Sunday Independent reported that Phetla may have deliberately acted in disregard of the Municipal Financial Management Act (MFMA) when she facilitated a payment of almost R3m to Variegated PTY Ltd for electrical equipment without the knowledge nor approval of the municipal manager, as per the requirement of section 79 of the MFMA.

It is alleged that the electrical materials were never delivered to the municipality.

Chief Financial Officer of the City of Matlosana Municipality Mercy Phetla. l SUPPLIED

In the complaint filed by Muller, he told the Public Protector’s office that the allegations were “extremely serious to be ignored or taken lightly”.

“It is for that reason I am requesting the PPSA to urgently investigate these serious allegations and determine whether they are with merit or not.

“PPSA, the fact that the CFO remains in office despite the seriousness of the criminal case that she was charged for, leaves me to reasonably doubt the credibility of the Matlosana Municipal Council to properly and impartially investigate the alleged conduct of the CFO Mme Mercy Phetla.

“This complaint is against all the municipal officials alleged to have played a part in the unlawful transaction. I also request for the PPSA to probe reasons for Ms Phetla’s continued working without being placed on suspension pending internal investigation after she was charged on serious allegations of corruption,” read the complaint.

Variegated Pty Ltd Director Tiisetso Sebetlele. l FACEBOOK

Muller listed six areas of concern that he felt needed to be probed by the Public Protector.

  • Whether the allegations that the municipality paid for services not rendered are substantial or not.
  • Whether municipal officials who played a part in the transaction acted improperly in any way.
  • Whether It is a practice in the Matlosana Municipality to pay service providers on the same day after receipt of the invoices.
  • Whether any municipal officials violated or contravened section 195.1. (a) of the Constitution.
  • Whether municipal officials violated any sections of the MFMA.
  • Whether the Matlosana Council acted properly when it failed to place Ms Phetla under suspension following her arrest on serious allegations.

It is alleged that on January 5, 2024, Phetla signed and approved the electrical equipment purchase requisition that contained the names and signatures of requisition official T Lebelo, director/delegated official MJ Tsimone, and supply chain official Nyakallo.

On January 9, 2024, the municipality made a purchase order to Variegated Pty Ltd for electrical equipment worth R2.9m through the municipality’s buying officer.

The following day, on January 10, 2024, the municipality’s acting store buyer and controller Mamatebisi Josephine Tsimane claimed in a document to have received the goods from Variegated Pty Ltd company.

On the same day of January 10, Variegated Pty Ltd company submitted an invoice for payment to the municipality which was then approved by Phetla and paid on the same day.

The approval and payment of this figure appeared to be in breach of the National Treasury’s regulations as the purchase above R200 000 was done by CFO Phetla, including the acting store buyer and acting supply chain manager (SCM) without the approval of the Accounting Officer Lesego Seametsa (municipal manager) as empowered by the legislations mentioned above.

This was not the only suspicious tender transaction Phetla is being probed for.

She and two employees of GMHM Construction, Matshepiso Mothelesane, 39, and Nomthandazo Mokasule, 49, are facing corruption charges after it emerged that Phetla received a bribe in the form of a car worth R1.4m in exchange for a service delivery tender for GMHM Construction and Projects, a company conducting business with the municipality.