Cope expels treasurer Ndude for 'looting party'

Party president Mosuioa Lekota and ex co-president Sam Shilowa
Party president Mosuioa Lekota and ex co-president Sam Shilowa

COPE has been rocked by a corruption scandal that has led to the expulsion of Hildagrade Ndude who has been found to have been siphoning off thousands of rands from the party coffers in her capacity as national treasurer.

Ndude was found to have misappropriated the party's funds by paying R110,000, "authorised and earmarked for paying Amazon Media, into her personal account".

Ndude further attempted to misappropriate an amount of R72,240 by attempting to pay the money into her son's bank account, whereas it was intended for payment of a service provider, CC Properties.

She was also found to have approved and signed documents and authorised payments without invoices and having misled the signatories, senior official Deidre Carter and party president Mosiuoa Lekota, into believing that the payments were warranted and legitimate.

Disciplinary proceedings were instituted against Ndude on January 28 when the party's congress national committee (CNC) received a report on financial irregularities in her office. The disciplinary hearing was held on February 8 in Cape Town.

In his report, disciplinary committee chairman Craig Bosch said: "Ndude's overall conduct has been disgraceful. (She) caused financial difficulties for Cope and brought Cope into disrepute.

"In these circumstances there is, in my view, only one appropriate sanction and that is expulsion from Cope, and that is the sanction that I recommend."

Bosch finalised his report last Monday and handed it to Lekota.

The party's national office bearers met and resolved to recommend to the CNC that Ndude be expelled. By the end of last week, Bosch's report was adopted and Ndude formally expelled from Cope.

The national office bearers are now in the process of finding forensic auditors "to further determine the nature and extent of the misappropriation and mismanagement of funds by Ndude" and are working with lawyers to institute civil and criminal charges.

Cope spokesman Timothy Mahlangu said: "We are going to court to seek that her assets be frozen. There are many other amounts that need to be investigated. We estimate that these amounts could be up to R3m.

"It does look very bleak that this sort of thing is repeating itself in a party that has vowed to fight corruption. But it does say we are serious about eliminating these elements in the highest of our structures."

This is not the first time that Cope has been rocked by controversy involving allegations of financial misappropriation by a top official.

Previously, Cope co-founder Lekota expelled former co-president Shilowa from the party after an internal hearing found him guilty of mismanaging parliamentary funds.

Shilowa was found guilty of wrongfully authorising the transfer of R5m from the parliamentary allowance accounts to Cope's party accounts. It also found him guilty of authorising a payment of more than R2m for purposes that were not legitimate.

Shilowa has repeatedly denied all the charges and is challenging his expulsion in court.

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