BREAKING NEWS: Hawks nab mayoral committee member and others for fraud

A municipal meeting was interrupted yesterday when the Hawks arrested a mayoral committee member.

The Hawks also arrested a former ward councilor and a member of Co-operative services on Wednesday, February 15, after a lengthy investigation into allegations of fraud related to the leasing of farms in Ga-Nala.

The council leased land to two farmers, but money that should have been paid into the municipality’s coffers was paid into an account belonging to a company called Nutra Trading and Projects.

One farmer, who wishes to stay anonymous, told WITBANK NEWS he was under the impression that he was paying beneficiaries, Ilanga Libalele Co-operative that stayed on the land when he started leasing it four years ago.
The farmer was given permission to farm with maize and soybeans on condition that he will train beneficiaries in the skill of farming.

This fraudulent activities surfaced in June last year when the Democratic Alliance called for the immediate suspension of the municipal manager, Mr Theo van Vuuren following corruption charges against him based on guidelines set out in the Municipal Finance Management Act.

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The DA’s Caucus Leader Cllr Koos Venter asked that the Hawks conduct an investigation into Van Vuuren’s role in the facilitation of the movement of payments by the farmer away from municipal accounts into individual accounts not controlled by council.

Venter said he believes that Van Vuuren, as the accounting officer of the municipality, failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent corruption.

Van Vuuren reacted to the charges at the time it was laid and said:

“I deny the allegations against me that I knowingly facilitated payments into a fraudulent account. I am committed to fight any form of corruption and since my appointment more than 30 people have already been dismissed on charges whilst further disciplinary processes are ongoing. In this time a fully capacitance internal audit function with investigating capabilities was also created as well as various systems and controls created to fight such activities. If something is wrong we will find out who is responsible for it and steps will be taken.”

Mr Kingdom Mabuza, municipal spokesperson said the municipality under the leadership of the executive mayor Lindiwe Ntshalintshali co-operated fully during the investigation.

“The opposition, particularly the DA, falsely accused the municipal manager of corruption related to the sale of farms. The arrest, which is highly regrettable, will hopefully result into the DA to desist from further accusing Van Vuuren of imaginary corruption and allow him to execute his duties,” said Mabuza.

Zita Goldswain
Assistant Editor

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