A special council at the City of Matlosana Local Municipality in the North West is expected to decide the fate of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Mercy Phetla after the Hawks charged her with corruption last week.
Phetla is facing serious corruption charges after allegedly receiving a kickback gift of a car worth R1.4 million in exchange for a service delivery tender she gave to the company doing business with the municipality.
According to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), she received a VW Amarok bakkie from GMHM Construction and Projects employees in June 2023.
Phetla was arrested last Wednesday, January 17, alongside two employees of GMHM, Matshepiso Mothelesane (39) and Nomthandazo Mokasule (49). The trio were released the following day on R35 000 bail each.
Speaking to the Independent Media on the action to be taken by the municipality following the charges faced by Phetla, the Executive Mayor of Matlosana James Tsolela said that his municipality would be guided by the law.
“In terms of the law, the CFO reports to the Municipal Manager Lesego Seametsa. The Municipal Manager has seven days to submit a report to the council. It is the council that will determine the cause of action based on the report,” said Tsolela.
Contacted for comment, Seametsa refused to comment on the matter, citing that it was between the employer and the employee. She, however, confirmed that a special council meeting was expected to sit this Thursday.
In response to the charges faced by Phetla, the North West Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA NW) said that the department would monitor the handling of Phetla’s matter by the municipality in line with the prescribed processes from inception to its completion.
“COGTA NW unconditionally detests any act or conduct that borders on corruption in any municipality in the province, and continues to deepen the clarion call of clean governance in municipalities through its programmes on anti-corruption and ethical leadership.
“Our role in municipalities as per the constitution is to ensure that municipalities adhere to the letter of the laws that regulate their operations, considerate of the prescribed autonomy that the two spheres of government enjoy.
“It is also important to place on record that, municipalities are given competency in terms of the Municipal Systems Act, 2000, particularly thereto in Schedule 2 to the Act, to administer a code of conduct on their senior managers.
“The code prescribes the procedure and process that a municipality should follow in administering disciplinary measures over its senior officials, and consequences that may arise out of such acts. Thus the municipal council in the case of the City of Matlosana matter, is a competent authority to ensure that it duly subjects the matter of its CFO to the relevant processes of the Code, should it deem the circumstances of this case warranting,” said COGTA NW MEC Nono Moloi.
Despite the charges faced by Phetla, sources within the municipality said that she continued reporting for work last Thursday and Friday.
On Thursday, following the arrests, the municipality issued a statement calling for calm.
“The municipality will follow the developments with keen interest and has noted the nature of the corruption charges and the orders issued by the court to remove the implicated GMHM account responsibilities from the CFO to the municipal manager’s office.
“The city hereby wishes to assure the residents and the business community that they remain committed to the fight against corruption and the pursuit of clean municipal governance free from corruption.
“The municipality calls upon all for calmness and to exercise caution on the (circulation) of social media snippets, as some contain elements of misinformation which could create false impressions and negative public perceptions about the municipality,” read the city’s statement.
DA caucus leader in Matlosana, Johannes le Grange, welcomed the arrests and mentioned that the party would call an urgent special council meeting to “deal with the immediate suspension of the CFO from her role and that while she answers for these serious allegations of fraud and corruption before the court, she is barred from accessing any municipal buildings, offices and employees”.