Mayor and manager in hot water

Alfred Moselakgomo

The executive mayor of a Mpumalanga municipality stands accused of using thousands of rands of municipal money to pay his legal fees.

Now the DA has called for the immediate suspension of Richard Lukhele, the executive mayor of Barberton's Umjindi municipality, and municipal manager Sibongile Mnisi while they are being investigated.

The call was made after R67000 was paid to lawyers of the two from the municipal coffers - with no official council permission. The two were represented by Lukas Louw Attorneys.

They were suing local investigative journalist Bheki Mashile for R100000 each for defamation after his community newspaper, Umjindi Guardian, twice exposed corruption in the municipality, allegedly involving both of them.

A request for their immediate suspension has been submitted to the auditor general, MEC for local government Candith Mashego-Dlamini and the treasury department by the DA.

Both Lukhele and Mnisi were not available for comment yesterday.