GEORGE NEWS - A statement made on Facebook by Cape Town’s former mayor, Patricia de Lille earlier today, relating to alleged corruption at George Municipality, caused quite a stir.
In a lengthy description De Lille, leader of the GOOD party, starts with her exposé of corruption in the Arms Deal 20 years ago, which implicated senior ANC members. She then continues to explain how her “fight against the scourge continues”. She likened the alleged corruption in George to the VBS corruption scandal.
De Lille said “a similar investment and kickback scheme has been operating in the DA-led George Municipality”. “Evidence of the scheme has been repeatedly reported to the provincial government which has failed to act against its members,” writes De Lille.
“The evidence, including a forensic investigation led by an independent firm of attorneys, points to the irregular transfers of hundreds of millions of Rands since 2017 by the George Municipality to [a financial institution]. Linked to those transfers are handling fees paid to the son of the DA Councillor [name withheld] who is responsible for the municipality’s finances. Kickbacks evidently amounted to almost R400 000 in the first six months of the project, alone.”
In reaction to De Lille’s statement, the minister of Local Government, Anton Bredell, released a statement within hours. Bredell says De Lille’s statements are devoid of fact.
He confirms that “the Provincial Government is in fact fully aware of the allegations pertaining to a possible investment scheme at the George Municipality.”
Bredell says a the matter has been reported to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI) in George – known as the Hawks - and that the provincial department has been in frequent contact with the DPCI in this regard.
“In addition, the Municipality has procured the services of a forensic firm to investigate the allegations and the Provincial Department is further aware that the Municipality has in fact already initiated disciplinary processes against the implicated municipal official.”
“Further to the above, the Provincial Government is also aware that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) might explore the possibility of a Proclamation into the matter, should there be sufficient cause to do so,” said Bredell.
Councillor’s son implicated
De Lille quotes from an investigative report, saying it was concluded that (1) the CFO of George Municipality abused his position, (2) that the documentation “seems to indicate that the son of a George Municipal Councillor gained financially” from the scheme, and (3) there were efforts to cover-up the Councillor’s conflict of interest through re-drafting agreements.
“The report recommends internal action to hold the Councillor and CFO accountable, and that the matter is referred to applicable law-enforcement agencies for further investigation.”
De Lille furthermore says that instead of following the report’s recommendations, “George councillors instructed the Municipal Manager not to investigate the implicated councillor. The DA-led Council, including the implicated councillor, resolved that action should be taken against the Municipal Manager – the man who attempted to stop the corrupt payments and commissioned the investigation.”
Reacting to a request for comment, Municipal Spokesperson Chantel Edwards-Klose said: “George Municipality is aware of the allegations and confirms that an investigative process has been undertaken. No comment can be made on the outcomes of said process until finalised.”
Cheap political points
Bredell accused De Lille of being politically opportunistic. “While I am fully aware of the election season and the need to score cheap political points by grandstanding, I would urge politicians to act responsibly and at the very least desist from spreading unverified rumours. It’s simply not a good idea. In the Western Cape we believe in sticking to the rule of law and not play acting in the court of public opinion.”
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