How Killer tried to grab R200000

A FORMER municipal official who allegedly transferred nearly R200000 of taxpayers' money into his own bank account - is yet to be charged with attempted fraud.

The Mbombela municipality says Mandla Mathebula - who worked as an accountant in the debt collections department - resigned before he could be hauled before an internal disciplinary hearing.

In January this year Mathebula, a lawyer, allegedly told a local businessman who owed the municipality R230000 in unpaid water and electricity bills - to deposit an amount of R190000 into his (Mathebula's) personal account.

The authorities say Mathebula assured the businessman that his outstanding debt would be cancelled once he had transferred the money.

"But the businessman became suspicious and reported the matter to the municipality, police and his bank, First National Bank," municipal spokesperson Joseph Ngala said.

"We arranged with FNB to freeze Mathebula's account as soon as the money had been deposited so that he could not access the money."

The money was later returned to the businessman's bank account.

The municipality says it was planning to haul Mathebula before a disciplinary hearing for fraud when he resigned.

But Mbombela mayor Lassy Chiwayo told Sowetan: "There was clearly a fraud attempt and criminal charges will be laid against the official."

Mathebula is in custody for the murder of his wife's boyfriend.

He has been found guilty of killing Bhekumuzi Vincent Nkuna in 2007 after finding him with his wife, Sibongile Gladys Mkhwanazi.

Mathebula is due to be sentenced on August 17.

Morgan Kekana of Maubane Attorneys in Pretoria said it was still possible for the municipality to lay charges of attempted fraud against Mathebula if the client who made the payment was willing to co-operate.

"The client should be a witness in the matter because without his status the municipality would not have a strong case.