The former mayor of Ingwe municipality has finally been sentenced to five years’ direct imprisonment for using the mayoral food fund meant for the poor, to fund a ward councillor’s brother’s funeral.
The sentence comes after Nomagugu Luzulane, who was mayor of the rural Ingwe Municipality, near Pietermaritzburg, was found to have ordered the municipality to pay for catering, sound and a tent at the funeral of her boyfriend’s brother in April 2012.
At the time, the municipality had implemented a project called “Operation Mbo” which aimed to identify the vulnerable members of the community and supply them with food parcels.
Even though Luzulane’s position precluded her involvement in the supply chain management issues, she used her influence at the time to secure R71 500 from the operation and used the funds.
She was arrested after a municipal manager at the municipality reported the matter to the Hawks (the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, DPCI).
The State relied on the testimonies of several municipal employees who gave accounts of how Luzulane blatantly used the funds to pay for the fraudulent expenses.
The former mayor was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for fraud, two years being suspended for a period of five years.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the charges relating to the contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) were taken as one for the purpose of sentencing, ensuring the former mayor was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
Due to the court’s ruling that the sentences run concurrently, this resulted in the effective five-year imprisonment.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) also did their part and secured a section 18 confiscation order, enabling them to order the former mayor to pay back the R 71 500 to the municipality, something which she paid in full prior to sentencing proceedings.