Durban mayor‚ while touting city's anti-corruption measures‚ under investigation for graft
On Friday last week Durban mayor Zandile Gumede vowed to “drive a corruption-free city” saying that the eThekwini municipality had adopted a zero-tolerance stance on all forms of corruption‚ fraud and maladministration.
This came after it emerged that the auditor-general's office had pulled out staff from the municipality following death threats issued against them.
Now it has emerged that Gumede is being investigated by the Hawks for facilitating money laundering‚ fraud and corruption allegedly to pay back cronies who helped her political ambitions.
A City Press article has revealed that a hard-hitting forensic report on which the investigation by the Hawks is based‚ has found that Gumede summoned a municipal official to her home to demand that a R25-million tender go to handpicked companies.
The report stated that these companies may have belonged “to councillors and political figures that had supported Gumede in her political endeavours and that councillor Gumede owed them a token of gratitude in the form of contracts from eThekwini”.
However‚ Gumede‚ through her spokesman Mthunzi Gumede‚ has denied the allegations‚ saying they were “propaganda by those working with the opposition to collapse the municipality”.
The allegations are expected to be top of the agenda of an executive-council meeting on Tuesday and the full-council meeting on Thursday.
The Sunday newspaper reported that the forensic report by Integrity Forensic Solutions named Gumede and Mondli Mthembu‚ a councillor who chairs the human-settlements committee in council‚ and three other officials who allegedly orchestrated a corruption and money laundering “scam”‚ which saw eThekwini pay R25-million to hire about 800 chemical toilets for six months.
Before this‚ the city had paid about R3-million to hire toilets for three years.
According to the weekend report‚ this is one of the cases that led to last week’s withdrawal by the AG’s staff from the municipality.
The three officials implicated in the forensic report are the deputy head of the metro’s water and sanitation unit‚ Sibusiso Vilane‚ the department’s superintendent Nkosinathi Zuma and senior manager Vusumuzi Mkhwanazi.
Zuma told investigators that Gumede summoned him to her home and “questioned him why it was that the list of suppliers that had been given to Vilane and Mkhwanazi by councillor Mthembu had not been awarded to the contract”. He stated that Gumede ordered him to see to it that Mthumbu’s instructions were followed.
Zuma told the investigators that after meeting Gumede it dawned on him that Vilane and Mkhwanazi had not chosen the companies Mthembu wanted. Mthembu reportedly then called the three officials to a meeting‚ where he rebuked them for not appointing the companies he chose.
According to the Sunday newspaper‚ the report states that Mthembu insisted that these service providers “be given work to supply the toilets since they were councillors and political figures that had supported Gumede in her political endeavours‚ and that councillor Gumede owed them a token of gratitude in the form of contracts from eThekwini”.
After the AG pulled out its staff from the municipality‚ Gumede called an urgent press conference at the city hall on Friday last week where she said that through its fraud and anti-corruption policy‚ the municipality aims to “build an ethical and corruption-free municipality”.
“Good governance remains a key priority for the city. Anyone who transgresses good business principles with the city‚ be it a member of the executive‚ an ordinary councillor‚ any member of our staff or private companies trading with the city‚ will be dealt with by the full force of the law.
“The municipality has adopted a zero-tolerance stance on all forms of corruption‚ fraud and maladministration and has established numerous measures to prevent fraud and corruption in the city structures‚” said Gumede.