Probe lays bare corruption in the North West councils
IRREGULAR appointments, conflicts of interest involving millions of rands of public money and cheque fraud are some of the offences uncovered by investigations into several North West municipalities.
A presidential proclamation, signed by President Jacob Zuma in 2009, mandated the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate 24 North West municipalities.
It has uncovered wide-ranging instances of irregular tender processes, non-compliance with legislation and callous treatment of taxpayers' hard-earned money.
At the Madibeng local municipality in Brits, the SIU found that 12 companies that had been conducting business with the council were owned by municipal officials.
Investigations show that council officials raked in R4.9-million between January 2005 and November 2009, proving how hard-earned taxpayers' money continued to fall prey to officials who acted as both player and referee.
The millions were paid to the 12 companies the officials had a hand in awarding contracts to.
However, the officials may finally be called upon to account for their misuse of public funds as the SIU has recommended that Madibeng take action.
At the Greater Taung local municipality, the SIU discovered that 135 municipal employees had undeclared financial interests in businesses outside the municipality.
This is compared to 115 council employees having similar interests in the Moses Kotane local municipality.
The SIU established that, in four cases in Greater Taung, council employees had benefited from ownership in companies that did business with the municipality while in Moses Kotane, 17 council employees were found to be directors of companies doing business with the municipality.
The report states that 14 disciplinary matters have been referred to Moses Kotane, including 10 which had been finalised while four were in their final stages.
The SIU reviewed four contracts worth R18.2-million at Greater Taung local municipality as well as an allegation that several municipal officials had been appointed irregularly. However, these investigations were scuppered because of missing files. In its report, the SIU admits that it had failed in its attempts to obtain the files.
Another probe, this time at the Moses Kotane local municipality, proved unsuccessful.
The SIU could not determine whether R2.3-million had been irregularly paid to a service provider tasked with delivering roof sheeting. Allegations had been made that the service provider had not delivered the material.
Meanwhile, Rustenburg local municipality has lost out on R24.3-million worth of rates and tax revenue after having failed to include 19,144 properties in its fixed asset register. This figure was registered as at March 31 2011.
Lethabong is shown to possess the largest concentration of lost revenue.
The SIU has further called for action against the former Tswaing local municipality municipal manager and two directors following revelations that 135 employees were irregularly appointed, while Ramotshere local municipality is under investigation for cheque fraud amounting to R428,246.
The matter has been referred to the SAPS.
This article was first published in the printed newspaper on 22 October 2012