Probe into use of City of Cape Town’s relief funds might take longer
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Cape Town - The provincial government wants “all relevant” information on allegations of serious malpractice regarding the City's humanitarian fund before it launches an investigation.
The Hawks said they have arrested Reuben Swartz, the chairperson of South African Religious Civic Organisation (SARCO), for allegedly claiming money from the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) and using it for personal benefit.
The investigation also expanded to allegations that Swartz received as much as R170 000 from the City's humanitarian fund, which it said was for food parcels in Atlantis.
But the money was allegedly channelled to a church in Table View with ties to some of the City officials. Swartz allegedly worked with a City official.
Hawks spokesperson Philani Nkwalase said more arrests were imminent.
The City set aside millions of rand for relief support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, GOOD party secretary-general and member of the provincial legislature Brett Herron said due to the pandemic, some processes to secure organisations to carry out the Grant-In-Aid project were bypassed and councillors were asked to help identify beneficiaries.
“DA councillors are said to have been involved in identifying the church as the end-recipient of the funds, and City officials were in on the plan. The identities of all the alleged conspirators are known to GOOD,” said Herron.
However, what was not clear at this stage was “whether the money was to be used to advance the prospects of a particular DA candidate in an internal battle for position, or to benefit the party more generally. Local government elections are to be held in October,” said Herron.
MEC for Local Government Anton Bredell has been requested by GOOD party to conduct an investigation in terms of Section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act.
Herron said Bredell was duty-bound to investigate allegations of maladministration, fraud, corruption or serious malpractice in a municipality when there was reason to believe it was occurring.
Bredell said investigations such as the one requested by Herron were governed by statutory prescripts and he intended requesting for “all relevant supporting documentation” in his possession.
“It is important to comply with statutory provisions which uphold important principles of natural justice and due process,” he said.
The City said it was in the process of recovering the unspent portion of the R170 000 total funding to the NGO as this should not have been transferred to the church in terms of the Grant-In-Aid conditions.
The City also refuted allegations that “the funds were used for purposes other than food relief as false and political opportunism”.
“The City will not hesitate to act where these funds are not correctly administered by recipient organisations and encourages anybody who is aware of potential mismanagement of relief funding to report the matter to the police,” it said in a statement.
Herron said alleged remarks by DA sub-council chairperson Angus Mckenzie about food parcels winning votes were worrying.
Last month, the City was said to be investigating a statement by McKenzie that “food parcels win votes in small towns like Zoar,” Herron said.
The City would not divulge what action had been taken against Mckenzie, saying it viewed disciplinary matters as being privileged and confidential and that councillors had a right to confidentiality.