'WE WERE RIPPED OFF'
The cash-strapped Nkomazi municipality in Nelspruit has finally admitted that its chief financial officer approved payments amounting to millions of rands to service providers that failed to deliver.
CFO Sheila Mabasa, had previously denied any wrongdoing. She once cried while on the phone to Sowetan, saying. "Some people want to see me going down the drain because they are jealous".
It took Cyril Ripinga, the municipality spokesperson, 10 days to respond to Sowetan's queries about payments to suspiciously appointed service providers who later failed to deliver.
Ripinga yesterday begged this journalist not to write another story about the municipality "at least until after Christmas, so that we can have some breathing space".
Pressed for comment on whether or not the municipality made payments to service providers without their doing any work, Ripinga said: "Hey, you are right. We did make the payments to some service providers who failed to deliver the expected services, but we have taken the legal route to recover the money."
Sowetan has learnt that a number of companies, including some who were to streamline the municipality's finances, were paid millions of rands without doing anything.
Ripinga's confirmation comes in the wake of the municipality's refusal to table a damning report received from MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs Norman Mokoena more than a month ago.
Mokoena's spokesperson, Simphiwe Kunene, has refused to provide Sowetan with a copy of the report, saying the municipality has to study it before making it public.
Mabasa is said to be one of those implicated in the report. Allegations have surfaced that she has threatened to open a can of worms if she were to be charged.
Despite Kunene confirming that the Section 106 report had been handed over to the municipality, Ripinga denied any knowledge of it.
Mayor Johan Mavuso was not available for comment.