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Senior officials arrested for fraud, money laundering at Umzimkhulu Local Municipality

DURBAN, September 12 – Several former senior managers from the Umzimkhulu Local Municipality appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday, accused of paying select service providers who were awarded fake tenders.

They are accused of being part of a syndicate that created fake ‘legal’ contracts with service providers for non-existent service provision and then made payment to the companies, who in turn paid kickbacks to the officials.

Former project manager for infrastructure, Dumisani Mzolo, 42; current finance manager, Vuyokazi Mfeqa, 45; the municipality’s former accountant acquisition manager in supply chain management, Raymond Mthokozisi Radebe, 34; and former administration manager at the infrastructure department, Anthia Adams, 37, appeared before Magistrate Judy Naidoo and were released on bail. They are believed to be the ringleaders of the cabal.

They stood alongside business owners Thabang Mfusi, 33; Obuhle Rosalia Ngcobo, 48; Lubabelo Madikizela, 29; and Vuyani Mngonyama, 32, and work colleague Chwatiya Ntombi Mathlamvu, 31. Anthia Adams’s husband, Wesley, was also an accused.

The accused appeared in a packed courtroom facing charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering.

The companies that were charged are Njakazane (Pty) Ltd owned by Mfusi; Griffiths Solutions (Pty) Ltd owned by Madikizela; YemYemu Construction and Projects (Pty) Ltd linked to Ngcobo; and Wutu Training and Projects (Pty) Ltd owned by Mngonyama.

On Tuesday morning, all the accused handed themselves over to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as the Hawks, at the Durban Central Police Station.

Other companies listed on the draft charge sheet having allegedly taken part in the scheme — but not listed as accused — were Nzema Trading, Esonale Trading, Cingangomso Trading and Fuzelihle Trading.

It is unclear if the owners will be charged at a later stage or how the companies are connected to the current accused.

The alleged crimes were committed between December 2016 and February 2017. Mzolo, Radebe, Adams and Mathlamvu left the council thereafter.

According to the preamble to the charge sheet, Mzolo is alleged to have “acted with his colleagues to award fraudulent contracts to…seven service providers who did not render any services to the municipality”.

“It is [also] alleged…that [Mfeqa] invited the seven service providers to submit their bids and further assisted in payments of the invoices knowing that the service providers did not render any services to the municipality. She further solicited money from the service providers to pay into her own business and to [another work colleague’s] business account,” read the preamble.

It also said Radebe assisted the service providers to obtain the unlawful contracts and assisted with payment, while Adams is accused of helping the illegal service providers to process documents for services never rendered.

According to Prosecutor Mlu Magwanyana, the money was laundered at various amounts between R117,000 and up to R270,000.

The matter has been postponed to November 9.

Umzimkhulu falls within the Harry Gwala District Municipality.

Shortly after the court case, Ngcobo appeared again, this time for her alleged role in defrauding the since disestablished Ingwe Municipality — which now forms part of the Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Local Municipality after it merged with the Kwa Sani Local Municipality.

She made her first appearance on this matter alongside businessman Mthokozisi Edward Ngcobo, 54.

The other two people charged — who made their first appearances in June — are former Ingwe mayor Nomagugu Luzulane, 44, and a Nonhlanhla Shezi, 47.

It is alleged the four were involved in the defrauding of the defunct municipality to the amount of R1.01 million. This matter was adjourned to October 5. (ANA)

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