GEORGE NEWS - A break-in at a residency in the Boland may have a sinister connection to a report on the George Integrated Public Transport Network (GIPTN) dating back to 2017.
Managing director of Brasika Consulting, Advocate Helen Venter, was victim to a break-in and theft from her home in Paarl last week. The only missing items are three laptops. A source suggested that information relating to the Brasika report may have been the target of the burglars. The police confirmed that the break-in happened on Thursday 17 October.
When asked about the incident, Venter said she has been advised not to provide any further detail, since the case is under investigation.
Municipal Manager Trevor Botha and Mayor Melvin Naik asked Brasika in April 2017 to compile a report which would legally inform the George Municipality on the way forward regarding the incorporation of the GIPTN (George Integrated Public Transport Network) within its own operations. According to information, the municipality was invoiced about R90 000 for the task.
While the main idea of the Brasika report was to advise the municipality on the legalities of taking full ownership of the GIPTN, Brasika unearthed some uncomfortable facts. The report pointed out R148-million of alleged unauthorised expenditure and financial misconduct in the GIPTN and questioned the payment mechanism between George Municipality and the provincial department of transport.
Without the necessary approval from Treasury, these payments amount to irregular expenditure and are in contravention of the law.
Funding for Go George comes from the Public Transport Network Grant - a conditional grant from National Treasury.
In June last year, when the allegations first surfaced, the communications head of the department, Jandré Bakker, said that Province provides financial support to the municipality for the bus transport system and the municipality reimburses the department from income received from users of the service.
The full Brasika report only served in Council in the first week of October this year, more than two years after its completion.
In response to queries from the George Herald, Venter said she received a 'cease and desist' letter from George Municipality on 5 September this year, prohibiting her from giving any comment or advising on the Brasika report.
She was able to confirm certain information that is deemed common knowledge, such as by whom and when it was requested and when the report was submitted.
Requested by whom?
In a recent statement to the George Herald, the ANC said the report was sanctioned by the former chief financial officer of the George Municipality, Keith Jordaan. However, the party has since received information to the contrary and Venter has confirmed this. She said the firm was requested to compile the report by both Botha and Naik and that it was completed two years ago.
"The report was officially handed over on 14 August 2017."
This was also confirmed by Jordaan, who said the GIPTN service resorted within the office of the municipal manager since 2014, until it was transferred to the Directorate of Public Protection, with Steven Erasmus appointed as the first and current director from December 2017.
Municipal spokesperson Chantel Edwards-Klose said the municipality would not provide any further comment on the matter.
Read more about the allegations in next week's paper and here on www.georgeherald.com.
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