ANC candidates charged with corruption remain on election lists
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WESTERN CAPE ANC candidates charged with tender corruption and fraud in a Hawks investigation will remain on the election list says the party’s provincial leadership.
On Friday, Beaufort West mayor Quinton Louw, municipal official Norwood Kotze, Central Karoo District Municipality speaker Mkhululi Hangana and Karoo Democratic Force’s Noel Constable were arrested and charged with fraud and corruption.
The group appeared at the Beaufort West Magistrate’s Court on Friday after handing themselves over to police. Their case is linked to an investigation by the Hawks into an illegal and irregularly awarded contract worth more than R620 000 back in 2019 relating to the upgrades of roads.
The province has been forced to intervene and implement a financial recovery plan after financially strapped Beaufort West was on the brink of administration.
Hangana was accused of allegedly receiving more than R50 000 in kickbacks from the irregular contract and Louw allegedly received R8 000.
This comes just weeks before the local government elections where both Hangana and Louw feature high up on the ANC’s candidate lists for the region.
ANC interim leader Lerumo Kalako said while the party’s step-aside policy could apply, in this instance it would not impact their standing as candidates.
“We are waiting for the region to give us more information and for the members involved to explain themselves,” he said.
“While they may remain as candidates and if elected stay on as councillors, they cannot hold the position of mayor or speaker, mayoral committee members or chair any committees. A decision will be communicated to them as early as this coming week.”
ANC central regional secretary Windy Plaatjies said the party would meet on Monday to get a briefing on the matter before making statements.
“We note the arrests, we are trying to get full information from the affected parties trying to process the full information through structures,” he said.
Political analyst Professor Zweli Ndevu said the application of the set-aside policy was problematic.
“What has happened with this policy is that people who have been asked to step-aside have not actually vacated those positions either within the party or in public office. They have simply taken a leave of absence,” he said.
“We have seen parliamentarians take take special leave awaiting cases (against them) to be resolved at a judicial level.
“My biggest concern with people high up on lists that is they can be elected to positions while their cases drag on as in this case.
“This policy is not effective, only effective when dealing with political opponents rather dealing with corruption.”
The State alleged that the group colluded with the director of the company that was awarded a contract to upgrade roads on a project already completed by another company.
The company involved, whose name is known to Weekend Argus, and its directors are listed as co-accused in the matter but are yet to appear in court.
According to the state’s case, Hangana was instrumental in bringing in the director of said company to Beaufort West and went as far as registering an address in the town for the company in order for them to qualify for the bid.
Hangana allegedly benefited by R55 700 between May 2019 and February 2020 for his part in getting the company appointed.
He is accused of paying Louw R8 200 over a three-month period for his cooperation before the contract was even awarded.
Kotze allegedly facilitated the submission of invoices for work already completed by different company.
The State in its case also highlighted how Kotze’s appointment to the municipality was irregular, beginning with his first job as director of civil services and engineering in 2017 which was not endorsed by the minister of local government. A year later Kotze was hired as manager for civic roads and stormwater on a director’s salary resulting in irregular expenditure of over R30 000.
Council set his salary at a director’s level of R69 227 per month instead of R49 090 for a manager. But it was later reduced to R63 724 after other staff complained.
“His unjustified salary increase caused irregular expenditure of R33 019,” read the charge sheet.
Louw, who was the deputy mayor at the time, is alleged to have misused his authority by interfering with supply chain management processes and colluded with the three other accused to get this specific company appointed.
It’s alleged that there were 227 phone calls between himself and the director of this company before the tender had even been advertised.
It is also the State’s case that he called a meeting in December 2019 to inform the director in charge of that department to pay the company knowing the invoices submitted were irregular.
Constable, who was mayor and later became speaker, is alleged to have had a corrupt relationship with the director of the company. The State alleges R5 000 was paid to his political party’s (KDF) account as well as a donation made to his child’s school in the area.
Constable told Weekend Argus he was cooperating with the investigator as he has nothing to hide and believed the case was politically motivated.
“I was aware of the investigation. I was contacted by the investigator last year between March or May,” he said.
“I am very suspicious of the timing. I know this is a political game. The DA does not have a campaign and a message to give to the residents of the Central Karoo. They will use this to boost their agenda. But for them it is too little too late.
“Also this happened two weeks after we instructed the municipal manager through a council decision to lay charges against the DA Central Karoo District Municipality mayoral candidate, Derick Welgemoed, who stole land from the people of Beaufort West.
“I look forward to whenever I will be called to stand trial. But this will not affect my position in my party.”