No case for suspected R15m ‘fraudster’

POLOKWNANE – The Polokwane Municipality earlier this year, accepted the resignation of an official suspected to have committed fraud to the tune of R15 million, without the official facing any further charges or investigations, internal or through criminal processes.

According to a source, the person is said to have fabricated quotations, falsified another person’s signature and created fictitious companies and used existing companies’ names to solicit business from the municipality.

The official’s lifestyle was apparently extravagant considering the salary earned.

After the person was initially informed that the municipality had planned an investigation, he resigned with no further action taken against him.

BONUS wanted answers from the municipality, among others, why it was that months earlier, another official in the same department had been investigated and found guilty, criminally, on a fraud charge of a lesser amount of R1,5 million while this apparent case was not investigated.

The municipality did in fact, receive the services related to the expenditure, according the Municipal Spokesperson, Matshidiso Mothapo.

“This was more of a processes issue than the alleged fraud. The deviations were reported as part of financial statements to council and that formed part of the reports presented to the AG. In line with AG’s findings and recommendations, the municipality has strengthened its internal control systems to minimise or ensure that cases of this nature do not recur,” he said.

Mothapo confirmed the official received a notice of intention of suspension.

“After irregularities relating to deviations were detected through internal control systems, the official was informed of the municipality’s intention to suspend him so an investigation could be done. The official at the time decided to resign.”

Even though, according to the labour law, a person can be investigated despite a resignation being tendered, Mothapo maintained an employee could be accused or charged of fraud after a formal investigation was conducted: “At the time of his resignation, there were no charges against him and therefore there was no legal ground or evidence to pursue the matter”. According to the labour guide issued by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), an employee is required to supply the employer with a contractual period of notice, e.g. one month, and the employer can still pursue disciplinary action within the said period, as the employee is still employed by the employer.

“The employer is fully entitled to proceed with the disciplinary action even if the employee has resigned,” the guide states.

Mothapo said the municipality was not aware of the involvement of other officials as an investigation was not done. “All the allegations need to be tested with evidence. The matter may also be reported to the police and the municipality will fully cooperate with any investigation in the interest of good governance.” Asked if Bonus could discuss the matter with the Mayor, Thembi Nkadimeng, Mothapo said he spoke on behalf of the municipality, and on behalf of the mayor.

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Nelie Erasmus

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