By LUKAS NOWICKI and ROD AMNER
Makana Citizen Front’s (MCF) Lungile Mxube has accused Makana Municipal Manager Moppo Mene of covering up corruption by failing to suspend Water and Sanitation manager Gubevu Maduna, who is facing charges of procurement fraud for his alleged involvement in a R25-million toilet tender at Setsoto Municipality in the Free State.
Maduna’s trial, initially set for 6 June 2022, has been postponed until 14 November, according to Free State NPA spokesperson Phaladi Shuping.
In a recent statement, Mxube asked: “How can a municipality fail to do a basic thing- place this official on precautionary suspension pending the outcome of a criminal case?”
In response, Mene said Gubevu had not been charged when he was appointed at the start of 2020.
“The case came from the previous employer. The individual was called into my office to explain why he did not declare [the arrest]and what occurred.
“Any reasonable person will not suspend a person on a matter that involves another municipality and not knowing the details submitted by that employer. He is innocent until the courts resolve the matter.
“I have taken precautions to take him off all procurement issues in Makana,” Mene said.
Maduna and one co-accused requested a postponement of the 6 June trial because they had changed lawyers. Maduna and all the other accused are still out on bail, according to Free State Hawks spokesperson Captain Christopher Singo.
An article published in Grocott’s Mail in May 2021 details the arrest of six officials, including Gubevu Maduna, from Setsoto Municipality and two business people from a company called TML Civils. The six officials were part of the Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC) which allegedly approved fraudulent submissions by the company in late 2018.
Singo said he was one of the six municipal officials and two company directors arrested in connection with alleged fraud in awarding a toilet infrastructure tender in Setsoto Local Municipality, Free State, in 2018. The accused appeared before the Ficksburg Magistrate Court on Friday, 30 April 2021, facing fraud, forgery and uttering charges.
“They were arrested in the early hours of [Friday 30 April] by the Hawks Serious Commercial Crime in Bethlehem,” Singo said.
The arrests emanated 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 submitted at Setsoto Local Municipality for toilet infrastructure,” Singo said.
It was 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 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.
At their 30 April 2021 appearance, they were granted bail of R2000 each.