There was nothing wrong with suspending a senior Ekurhuleni executive who was implicated in a R4 million supply-chain scandal relating to the 2010 World Cup.
This was the assertion made by Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina, who slammed suspended chief operations officer (COO) Joe Mojapelo for telling journalists this week that Masina lied to the city council to justify Mojapelo’s suspension.
Speaking at a briefing in Germiston, Masina also rebuffed media reports that Ekurhuleni squandered R1.9 billion on shoddy portable chemical toilets for the city’s 119 informal settlements.
Mojapelo was implicated in a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) report, which was tabled in council in February, and which The Star has seen, for alleged improper deviations, in which one supposedly undeserving company netted a cool R4m.
This week, Mojapelo spoke to several media houses where he, in an interview on Talk Radio 702, alleged that he had information which showed that there were efforts to remove him as COO for corruption to continue.
Masina said on Wednesday that after a February council meeting which adopted what councillors felt was an inconclusive SIU report, the corruption-probing agency responded with an evidence bundle in March that found against Mojapelo.
This was the reason for Mojapelo’s suspension, the mayor said.
Masina rejected Mojapelo’s public statements this week, saying the embattled COO’s “media avalanche” would strain relations between the two, to the point where it would be difficult for them to work together within Ekurhuleni in future.
“For me, I am worried about those things because I believe in him as a well-qualified engineer. I hold him in high regard.
“But, unfortunately, we have a government to manage here. When we are instructed by an arm of the state to discipline him, I can’t sit on top of the investigation and say: ‘I know this guy (Mojapelo), he’s my friend. Therefore, nothing must happen to him,” Masina told The Star. “I have taken an oath of office to serve the people of this area, so I can never betray that oath just for my friends,” the mayor said.
The Star contacted Mojapelo, who said he would comment when his hearing was concluded.
Meanwhile, Masina also responded on allegations, which surfaced in early July, that R1.9bn was wasted in an irregular tender to supply the city’s 119 informal settlements with chemical toilets.
He said R828m had been spent on the toilets since 2016, which would rise to an expected R872m by the end of the 2018/19 financial year.
In 2016 a government report recommended a ratio of one toilet per five households, and that the city would have to deliver 32943 toilets to meet the recommended ratio, of which 39112 were delivered, servicing 600000 people.