Athol Trollip investigated for 'hacking' metro server
The feud between Nelson Mandela Bay's mayor Athol Trollip and his deputy, Mongameli Bobani, has intensified with Bobani opening a criminal case against Trollip for allegedly hiring a company to "hack" the municipality's security system.
Eastern Cape police confirmed that the Hawks were investigating allegations that Trollip and municipal manager Johan Mentler authorised the appointment of Deltron Consulting to hack the municipal server, a move Bobani — of the United Democratic Movement — claimed compromised the information of thousands of employees.
A highly placed source within the municipality said Deltron Consulting was appointed without following proper processes to retrieve information withheld by another company, Afrisec, which installed the municipal security system.
Afrisec was appointed before the 2010 Soccer World Cup for the roll-out of fibre-optic cables and surveillance cameras. The project was aborted, leaving equipment worth millions of rands unused.
After the DA-led administration took over last year, it demanded that Afrisec hand over the municipality's electronic file management system, as its contract had ended in November 2016.
That is when, according to insiders, Deltron was appointed to hack the system.
Trollip denied all the allegations, saying Bobani should provide evidence.
"He must substantiate this and provide evidence to that effect. I do not know what he is talking about," he said.
Trollip and Bobani have been at each other's throats ever since their parties entered a coalition after the ANC failed to win a simple majority in the local elections.
Attempts by DA leader Mmusi Maimane and his UDM counterpart Bantu Holomisa to broker a peace deal between the two have failed.
The spat has threatened to collapse the coalition government in the metro.
Insiders said the "hacking" had led to the collapse of the municipality's ICT system, posing a security risk.
"What is worse is that our security system is also down, including the biometric access system and surveillance. This poses a major security breach at our metro police weapons storage base," a source said.
Mentler said the municipality was co-operating with the Hawks.
"We are confident that any investigation will vindicate the process undertaken thus far by the municipality in dealing with the unlawful and illegal actions of the past," Mentler said.
Deltron CEO Chris Ndlovu denied any hacking had taken place. He said his company had been subcontracted by another company that was registered with the municipality.
"Deltron does not have an appointment or a contract with the Nelson Mandela Bay metro," he said.
"Deltron was a subcontractor to Lulama Prince and Associates. To our understanding, Lulama Prince has a contract with [the metro]."
Afrisec executive Gary Johnson said: "We were a security provider at the time. We are now waiting to see how this police investigation unfolds. We cannot comment further."
Eastern Cape police spokesman Captain Khaya Tonjeni said the case had been assigned to the Hawks' commercial crimes unit.