Special Tribunal freezes former water board CEO’s assets

The offices of Lepelle Northern Water were raided by the SIU in 2019. Documents seized there raised the alarm about corruption surrounding a Giyani water project. Stock photo.
The offices of Lepelle Northern Water were raided by the SIU in 2019. Documents seized there raised the alarm about corruption surrounding a Giyani water project. Stock photo.
Image: 123rf.com/Riccardo Lennart Niels Mayer

A former CEO of Lepelle Northern Water (LNW), a state-owned enterprise supplying bulk potable water in Limpopo, has been barred from selling any of his four immovable properties pending finalisation of civil recovery proceedings against him.

Phineas Legodi’s properties are in Limpopo and Gauteng.

Special Tribunal judge Lebogang Modiba further ordered that the registrar of deeds in Pretoria and Polokwane effect an endorsement against the registration of Legodi’s properties pending the outcome of the main action.

Modiba also interdicted and restrained the Municipal Employees Union Retirement Fund from releasing Legodi’s pension benefits pending the outcome of the case.

Special Investigating Unit (SIU) spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the matter relates to a water project meant to benefit about 50 villages in Giyani, Limpopo.

“The department of water and sanitation appointed LNW to oversee the project. The SIU investigation has uncovered information which suggests LNW awarded a contract to a third party to work on the project irregularly while Legodi was in charge,” Kganyago said.

Legodi has since resigned from his position as CEO of the water entity.

Before Legodi resigned, he was facing 28 charges relating to failure to prevent irregular expenditure worth R39m.

A forensic report into the LNW board shows how money was allegedly incorrectly invested and assets mismanaged, with irregular expenditure reaching almost R40m, all under the watch of its former CEO.

During Legodi’s tenure, the Burgersfort waste water treatment works and the Phalaborwa disinfection plant stopped operating, according to the report.

The board opened a criminal case against Legodi in July last year and his pension has been frozen.

Legodi has declined to comment on the allegations against him.

Human settlements, sanitation and water minister Lindiwe Sisulu appointed Outsourced Risk and Assessment (Orca) to conduct forensic investigations into the affairs and financial positions of the water entity. The report has been handed over to the SIU, the Hawks and the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) for criminal investigation.

The SIU is planning to apply for a similar order against former Amatola Water Board CEO Vuyo Zitumane.

Kganyago said: “We can confirm the SIU is investigating matters involving the former CEO of Amatola Water Board. The available evidence is being reviewed. Based of the findings, the unit will approach the Special Tribunal for an anti-dissipation order.”

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