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VBS investments haunt senior officials at various Limpopo municipalities

VBS Mutual Bank in Thohoyandou, Limpopo, which has been milked dry by dodgy business people.
VBS Mutual Bank in Thohoyandou, Limpopo, which has been milked dry by dodgy business people.
Image: Antonio Muchave

Four municipalities in Limpopo have instituted actions against their managers in relation to the VBS saga. The Ephraim Mogale municipality in Marble Hall has resolved to serve the municipal manager and chief financial officer with precautionary suspension for approving the illegal investment of public money with the VBS Mutual Bank.

The municipality allegedly invested R82-million into the bank. The action of the municipality brings to four the total number of municipalities in the province which have instituted actions against their managers in relation to the VBS saga.

Ephraim Mogale is following the example set by the Vhembe district municipality, the Greater Giyani municipality and the Collins Chabane municipality of instituting actions against managers involved in the VBS saga. The Greater Giyani municipality  dismissed its chief financial officer Risimati Maluleke on October 19 after he allegedly failed to make representations on why he should not be suspended for misconduct relating to his involvement in the VBS investment. Maluleke was also found guilty of 19 charges relating to alleged authorisation of payments for work not done.

 Ephraim Mogale  on Friday gave its chief financial officer Kgabo Ramosibi and municipal manager Monicca Mathibela seven days to respond to letters on why they should not be suspended.

Municipal spokesperson Jan Phasha confirmed that council had issued letters of intention to suspend both Ramosibi and Mathibela. “The council has given the two senior officials seven days to make representations on why they should not be suspended,” said Phasha.

Some workers at municipalities involved in the VBS saga have been protesting, demanding the resignation of municipal managers and chief financial officers.

According to Greater Giyani municipality spokesperson Steven Mavunda, disciplinary proceedings had also been instituted against the municipality's technical director. He said, however, the person (technical director) resigned at the beginning of the disciplinary hearing.  “Council hopes that this action will send a strong warning to all those officials who might think of participating in corrupt and illegal activities that deprive people of the much-needed services,” Mavunda said.

Patrick Aphane, provincial secretary for the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu), said they would develop programmes in all municipalities that had made “illegal” investments with VBS. “We are going to develop programmes and we will meet Cosatu over the illegal investments made by municipalities with VBS,” said Aphane.

He added that they would also visit the municipalities that had invested with VBS but had not acted against their managers to impress upon them to do as other municipalities had done. "As Samwu we want all those municipalities that had invested with VBS to suspend their managers and chief finance officers as a matter of urgency,” he said.

The Elias Motsoaledi and the Makhado municipalities will hold their special council sittings on Tuesday to discuss their VBS investments. Elias Motsoaledi has deposited R20-million while Makhado has more than R60-million deposited with VBS. At least eight municipalities in the province had invested with VBS.

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