Official suspended over R288000 theft

Khangale Makhado

Khangale Makhado

Polokwane Municipality has been rocked by a scandal in which an employee is accused of stealing more than R280000 intended for a construction company tasked with upgrading sidewalks in the city.

Although cheques totalling R288941,27 were issued between August 31 2005 and January 20 last year, the intended recipient, Lerajane Construction, did not receive a cent from the eight recorded transactions in that period.

The company was only paid three cheques totalling R109622, 10 between January 26 and April 20 last year.

The culprit/s seemed to have a way of fraudulently cashing the cheques and got away with the theft until the matter was reported to the council.

The whistle was blown by a councillor of the opposition United Independent Front, Ngako Setjie.

Setjie told Sowetan that he had initially submitted a request on May 8 to the municipality's speaker to conduct a forensic audit into the suspected theft, but was told his request would not be entertained unless he supplied documentary proof.

Council spokesman Simon Mokoatedi said yesterday he was aware of the matter and that an investigation was conducted into the issue.

"An employee who was allegedly implicated has been suspended and charged with misconduct. He has already appeared before a disciplinary hearing and the case has been postponed for further investigation," said Mokoatedi, who refused to name the suspended employee.

Meanwhile, the municipality has also appointed KPMG auditing firm to investigate allegations against a repair company suspected of inflating its invoices to the municipality, even for work not done.

In one instance, the company, whose name is known to Sowetan, is alleged to have invoiced the municipality three times for a single job on a caterpillar front-end loader.

It is alleged that in the first instance the municipality paid R16206,06 for 13 hours of work, although the vehicle was at the workshop for less than two hours.

When the vehicle was taken in for service two days later, the municipality was charged R40041, and two weeks later it was billed about R56000 for the same job.

The company was also paid R6631,34 for changing wheel nuts.