PUBLIC FUNDS

A report into the mayor and deputy mayor of AbaQulusi Municipality in northern KwaZulu-misuse Natal’s of public monies concluded that the two are unfit to hold public office and recommended that strong action be taken against them.

The report, which was signed off on in June by special ethics committee head Swelakhe Shelembe, alleges intentional financial malfeasance by Mayor Mncedisi Maphisa and his deputy, Mandla Mazibuko.

The committee suggested that a forensic investigation be conducted by the entire council to determine the role of municipal workers in helping the unethical financial behaviour.

Maphisa’s hiring of an additional VIP protection guard and a backup rental car was determined to be in violation of basic municipal ordinance.

The study found no evidence of a police threat analysis, which is a usual need for security. According to the study, his indulgences alone resulted in a futile and wasteful expenditure of R513 063 between June 2021 and April 2022.

The mayor was also well aware of his breaches, according to the study, and had been informed of them by the municipality’s chief financial officer.

The report countered that while some officials testified to the special ethics committee that the late municipal manager, Bonga Ntanzi, had instructed more security for Maphisa through a service provider, “his continued usage of additional VIP security with full knowledge of non-compliance with prescribed legal requirements… [amounted] to a breach of code of conduct for councillors.”

Additional security, backup vehicle

The study discovered no evidence of a supply chain process to engage five VIP protection guards from Qomkufa Security between June 2021 and April 30, 2022.

During that time, Maphisa also rented a backup vehicle from the security business.

According to invoices supplied by Qomkufa Security, the mayor’s backup car was driven by an additional security guard for a monthly charge of R53 885.55.

Following that, the monthly fee for the car was decreased to R37 950, for a grand total of R513 063.30 between June 2021 and April 2022 for the car and the security guard operating it.

The cost of simply hiring the backup vehicle was R24 000 a month, which meant that the total cost of the car rent for the 11 months was R264 000.

Over the same time period, the total cost of the additional security guard was R182 142. The VAT for these charges was R66 921.30, bringing the mayor’s backup car and security expenses to more than R500,000 in less than a year.

The backup car was charged at R8 per kilometre, which meant the mayor’s bodyguards would have had to amass 3 000km mileage per month.

Failure to appear in front of the ethics committee

Several officials failed to come before the committee as well. Acting municipal manager JS Landman, director of community services Thabo Xaba, and manager in the municipal manager’s office Mpilo Sibiya were among those present.

Both Landman and Xaba asked time to acquire pertinent documents after coming before the committee for the first time. They did not, however, appear on May 5th as scheduled.


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