GROBLERSDAL – Sekhukhune District Municipality says that the amount of money the municipality paid in legal costs to lawyers who investigated and assisted to recover the R5.4 million which was stolen from its coffers is just under R2 million.
The district municipality was answering to allegations by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Sekhukhune last Wednesday, 11 August that that the ANC-led SDM has already spent more than R15 million in payments to attorneys and other persons who investigated the theft of R5.4 million from the municipality’s coffers in July 2017.
Moloko Moloto, SDM Spokesperson, said so far, they have recovered R4.9 million and that it was important to note that in order to recover the money, they needed the assistance of lawyers who could navigate the applicable litigation.
The DA said it has written to SDM Executive Mayor, Stanley Ramaila, to give a full account of what the R15 million was spent on and to explain why the expenditure should not be regarded as fruitless and wasteful.
Solomon Maila, DA Sekhukhune Caucus leader, said the theft, which was perpetrated through the transfer of R5.4 million into multiple private bank accounts, was clearly an inside job and that despite the lengthy suspension, and subsequent reinstatement of several officials employed in the municipality’s finance and Information Technology departments, none of those officials have been arrested, criminally charged or prosecuted for the theft of the public funds.
Maila said it was clear that the delay in the finalization of the criminal case was meant to shield the real masterminds behind the embezzlement of the R5.4 million which was followed by another theft of R12 million without consequence.
“This is further compounded by the fact that the disciplinary cases involving the suspected municipal officials have still not been concluded. It makes very little sense that the municipality would spend more than R15 million of taxpayers’ money to recover R5.4 million. The longer the disciplinary cases take, the more millions of rands will be spent on the matter,” said Maila.
The DA believed that both the ongoing disciplinary and criminal cases should be concluded in a prompt manner to ensure the accountability of the officials involved.
SDM’s Moloto informed that the disciplinary proceedings against the implicated officials were continuing.
He concluded that regarding the R12 million matter, the director who was found to have been negligent was demoted.
“However, criminal investigations by the police in both cases are continuing and we await an update from the police,” said Moloto.