Office of the Municipal Manager: Mr Trevor Botha
The Municipality is astounded to have learnt from a media statement that the MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Mr Anton Bredell (“MEC”) has ordered an investigation “over alleged fraud and corruption”.
According to the MEC’s statement “[t]his investigation will focus on – amongst other matters – the George Integrated Public Transport Network and Irregular appointments made at the Municipality. No stone will be left unturned.” This investigation is being conducted in terms of section 106(1)(b) of the Municipal Systems Act, 2000 read with section 7(1)(a) of the Western Cape Act, 2014.
The Municipality has reason to believe that the MEC’s invocation of the Western Cape Act constitutes a deliberate subversion of George’s constitutionally protected independence, appears to be politically driven and seems to support the view that the investigations into allegations against certain senior officials are selective.
In this regard the facts are the following:-
- On 25 July 2019, the MEC sent a letter to the Speaker of the Municipality regarding “ALLEGATIONS AT GEORGE MUNICIPALITY IN TERMS OF SECTION 5 OF THE [WESTERN CAPE ACT]”.
- No-where is it mentioned that the MEC was assessing allegations regarding the George Integrated Public Transport Network. That is because this issue has already been addressed by the Municipality in 2018 via its own internal investigation, and in cooperation with the MEC. These allegations as well as others were found to be unsubstantiated.
- As far as irregular appointments made at George Municipality, the Municipality provided a full response to the MEC dispelling these concerns during the course of August 2019.
- Earlier this year, GOOD leader Ms Patricia De Lille laid a complaint with the Public Protector over what she alleged was an investment and kickback scheme in the DA-led George Municipality, involving a councillor and his son. The MEC was quoted to have said “Sadly, Ms De Lille has made unfounded statements that are devoid of fact”.
- However, in July 2019, the Municipality found that Ms De Lille’s concerns were justified and that the Municipality’s former CFO, Mr Keith Jordaan, and others were indeed implicated in the kickback scheme that involved investment giant Old Mutual (“Old Mutual Investment Fraud Case”).
- This precise concern was reported to the MEC and the SAPS:DPCI (the Hawks) in July 2018, but no response from the MEC was forthcoming until January 2019, after which the complaint was ignored.
- Disciplinary action was instituted against Mr Keith Jordaan, in line with a Council Resolution, in relation to the Old Mutual Investment Fraud Case, and subsequently Mr Jordaan was found guilty of serious financial misconduct on 8 July 2019, for which the sanction was summary dismissal.
The Municipality is therefore concerned that the MEC’s conduct seemingly constitutes an extension of the MEC’s unlawful and politically motivated attempt to destabilise George, while the intention appears to protect implicated politicians – as alleged by Ms De Lille.
Ever since the Municipal Manager, Mr Botha, reported the concerns about the R350 Million Old Mutual Investment Fraud matter to the MEC and to SAPS: DPCI (the Hawks) – a barrage of spurious and unsubstantiated allegations have since been levelled against the Municipal Manager and the Mayor of George. In each case, the Municipality has found the allegations to be unsubstantiated.
The Municipality is troubled by the fact that the Old Mutual Investment Fraud case does not form part of the focus of the MEC’s probe, when its Council has already found wrongdoing in this regard.