The arrest last week of a senior manager in Makana has no current bearing on this municipality, says acting municipal manager Riana Meiring. GMDirect can confirm that the official was at work in Makhanda this week. Hawks spokesperson Captain Christopher Singo confirmed to GMDirect that the manager was among eight people arrested in Ficksburg on Friday 30 April. The arrests were in connection with alleged fraud in the awarding of a tender for toilet infrastructure in Setsoto Local Municipality, Free State, in 2018.
Singo said six municipal officials and two company directors appeared before the Ficksburg Magistrate Court on Friday, 30 April 2021, facing charges of fraud, forgery and uttering.
“They were arrested in the early hours of [Friday 30 April] by the Hawks Serious Commercial Crime in Bethlehem,” SIngo said.
Two of those arrested are directors of TML Civils.
Singo said the arrests emanate from an incident between October and November 2018.
“The six municipal officials were members of the Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC) and did not evaluate documents properly that were submitted at Setsoto Local Municipality for toilet infrastructure,” Singo said.
It’s alleged that TML Civils, through its directors, submitted irregular documents for tender. The BEC committee nevertheless allegedly recommended the same company be awarded the tender worth R25 million.
In a preliminary probe, the municipal manager had discovered that the recommended company submitted documents that didn’t conform to supply chain management requirements.
“The matter was then reported to the police and a case was handed over to the Hawks Serious Commercial Crime Investigation in Bethlehem for further investigation which led to arrests of eight suspects and their first appearance in court,” Singo said.
The eight suspects have not pleaded and the case has been postponed to Friday, 11 June 2021 for further investigation, Singo told GMDirect.
At their 30 April appearance they were granted bail of R2000 each.
GMDirect asked Makana what the implications are for the manager and this municipality. Acting municipal manager Riana Meiring said, “Since the matter is sub judice, we at present have no knowledge as to how it will impact Makana Municipality.
“The alleged offence has no bearing on the business of Makana Municipality at present and we will outwait the outcome of the court proceedings to see if [the manager’s]employment with us will be affected. Meanwhile we will presume his innocence until proven otherwise by a court of law.
“We have a fully capable Director in place and if needs be the Director will ensure that there is no vacuum.”
- Article updated 11.50am on Thursday 6 May to include Makana Municipality’s comment. Reference to the (then forthcoming) SCOPA visit removed: this will be covered in full in a separate article.