Top council officials blow R14m

CROOKED officials in the Thembisile Hani municipality have been accused of squandering taxpayers' money, which resulted in a R14million deficit.

MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs Norman Mokoena has now placed the municipality under curatorship after dissolving the mayoral committee.

Mokoena appointed independent forensic auditing firm Tayfin Forensic Auditors last July to probe allegations of irregularities and wasteful expenditure.

The probe was against top municipal officials, including executive mayor Victor Nkosi.

Nkosi has now been reduced to councillor status after the dissolution of the mayoral committee on Friday.

Mokoena presented the forensic report in council on Friday and appointed Vusumuzi Kubheka to take over the executive functions of the municipality.

A report in Sowetan's possession states that the former mayor failed to disclose his interest as a "patron" of Friends Events Management Services.

The company was awarded a R2,5million contract to erect the Confederations Cup fan park.

According to the report the company was supposed to secure a sponsorship for the proposed fan park project, conduct a feasibility study and appoint a steering committee - before implementation.

But Nkosi went on with the project despite it not adhering to these requirements.

The company also did not have a tax registration certificate.

The report says the municipality acted at its own peril by not verifying the company's tax registration status and so could not reclaim the R327669 tax paid to the company.

An internal investigation conducted in November 2008 was reliably informed that the concept was in fact Nkosi's brainchild and the municipality was the company's only client.

The independent audit report recommended that Nkosi be expelled and held liable for unlawful spending.

It also recommended that Nkosi be investigated by the Mpumalanga police for his involvement in the fan park project and for the loss incurred by the municipality.

Municipality council chief whip Joyina Jiyane said the municipality would "not be in this mess if crooked officials had not spent money on projects that were not budgeted for and without council approval".

Nkosi refused to comment - saying he had not seen the report.