NATIONAL NEWS - The High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday rejected the Emfuleni Local Municipality’s (ELM) urgent application to unfreeze its primary bank account, attached earlier this month.
This comes in light of a record R492 million default judgment in favour of its former smart meter service provider BXCSA.
The ruling was immediately welcomed by organised business in the Vaal as a victory not only for BXCSA, but for many long-suffering ELM vendors and service providers – many of whom do not get paid or are only paid at long irregular intervals.
“BXCSA has gained a major victory for business as a whole. This lack of transparency in payments has led to gross abuse and manipulation by ELM management and opens the door for corruption,” said Golden Triangle Chamber of Commerce chief executive Klippies Kritzinger.
“It is one of the issues business expects present municipal manager Lucky Leseane to address urgently now.”
Leseane has been on voluntary leave for two weeks and was according to sources not involved in the decision to make the urgent application against BXCSA this week.
BXCSA’s court victory this week comes against a background of a bitter factional battle within ELM to unseat Leseane whose anti-corruption efforts are being resisted by council and corrupt patronage networks still operating within the municipality.
Thursday’s ruling was handed down in a virtual hearing after ELM brought the urgent application on Tuesday.
Both BXCSA and ELM said they were now waiting for the court’s summation – expected before the weekend – before commenting.
But it is understood ELM will continue on the legal route to have the Standard Bank account attached by BXCSA on 2 October restored to its control by next approaching the Judge President in Tshwane to hear the matter.
ELM will now be forced to conduct its financial affairs – including keeping its promise to pay ELM employees and councillors at month-end October as promised by acting municipal manager Vincent Campbell – from a second ABSA account.
But news – leaked to Vaalweekblad by several multi-party political sources – of a second bank account possibly long-used to side-step increasing legal action and attachments, has sent shockwaves through the business sector and political arena.
Vaalweekblad over the weekend and this week exclusively published highly-secret detail and documentation on ELM bank accounts and balances after its primary account was attached and frozen on 2 October by BXCSA, which recently won a R492 million default judgement against ELM.
The publication revealed BXCSA could have attached more than R133 million from ELM instead of a mere R47 million ELM left in the primary bank account.
Additionally, the publication revealed another R64 million owing to ELM from electricity vendor Ice Cloud has not been paid over to the municipality since 2018 for undisclosed reasons.
ELM has not yet responded formally to publication of the banking details.
The ELM chief financial officer has now launched an internal investigation to intimidate employees and councillors from speaking out on ELM maladministration and corruption and also to find Vaalweekblad’s sources, said other sources.
Article: Caxton publicatio, The Citizen.