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Free State health department claims ex-HOD wrongfully charged

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Staff Reporter

The Free State Department of Health says its former head Dr David Motau, who appeared in court on Monday facing several criminal charges together with current and other ex-officials as well as some service providers, was never supposed to be charged because he is the one who raised alarm when the impropriety was initially discovered.

Provincial health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi told The Free Stater that the former head of department has been wrongly implicated in the matter because he is the one who instructed the department to lay criminal charges against employees who were found on the wrong side of the law.

“He has been wrongly implicated,” he said.

Mvambi said Motau, 54, is being charged with inability to discipline people in terms of the Public Finance Management Act.

“We are putting things into context, that’s the only thing we are doing,” the spokesperson said, referring to an earlier statement issued by the health department.

Mvambi claimed the police priority crime investigating unit, the Hawks, had treated Motau unfairly by taking an important document that was supposed to be used for the disciplinary hearings of the implicated staff and never returning it.

“They (the Hawks) took the document that he would have used to discipline people . . . because you can’t just discipline people based on no facts. You have got to sit with the documents,” he said.

“They are not giving it back. You write to them as a department and they don’t even reply.

“And at their own discretion, they come back and arrest you saying you have not done what you were supposed to do, yet they disabled you from doing so.”

In the statement, the department said it found it unfair that Motau had been dragged to court for failing to take disciplinary steps against those who allegedly defrauded the department.

It said the HOD actually instructed the chief financial officer to open a case, which was done at the time.

“At some stage of investigations, the Hawks then took all documentation which made it difficult for the HOD to institute disciplinary processes,” the statement pointed out.

“The former HOD formally requested documents but the Hawks did not provide such documentation to him.

“Whilst the matter is subjudice . . . it is important to provide context and not fall into a trap of generalisation which may unduly impact negatively on the credibility of implicated persons without a proper context.

“It is important to note that not all officials in this case were involved in criminal activities.”

Contacted for comment, Hawks spokesperson Captain Christopher Singo confirmed seeing the statement issued by the provincial health department but chose not to comment on it.

“Our role is to investigate criminal cases or complaints brought before us and once we are done, we then take the matter to the NPA for them to implement the charges against those implicated,” said Singo.

“So, if the provincial health department has any information regarding this case, they have to bring that information before a court of law. We cannot really comment much on that statement.”

In its detailed outline prepared for court, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) insists Motau has a case to answer.

It lists a total of 304 charges for all the accused, now numbering 23, including several companies and their directors who allegedly billed the provincial health department for work that was never done.

Motau alone is facing 44 counts of breaching the PFMA.

Some of the accused include Motsumi Polori, 47, and Kenosi Legobate, 45, who are still employees of the department.

The other former employees include Mietjies Johns, 63, John Chakane, 65, Maria Mabitle, 62, and Lebohang Beqeze.

The service providers include Tsietsi Polori, 47, Thabo Moeti, 39, Mavuso Kwababa, 49, Simon Njonga, 40, and Charity Moloi, 39, who were the directors of the companies into which the money was paid.

The companies include, Tsa Rona Consultancy, Azrago, Land Breeze Trading, Amakholwa Consultancy Training and Zen Communications.

The accused are all out on bail ranging from R2 000 to R5 000 and the case was postponed to September 22 for a High Court date.

The case docket, seen by this publication, states that Motau, as the accounting officer of the provincial health department at the material time, had a legal duty not to contravene the PFMA but failed to do so.

“The accused, unlawfully, wilfully, and or alternatively, in a grossly negligent manner, failed to comply with the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act in relation to the capturing, processing and approval of undue payments . . .” reads part of the docket.

The state lists among others that it was the duty of Motau as the HOD to: ensure that the provincial health department had and maintained an appropriate procurement and provisioning system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective; ensure the effective, efficient, economical and transparent use of the resources of the department; and prevent unauthorised, irregular and/or fruitless and wasteful expenditure as well as any losses arising from criminal conduct.

The NPA says the allegations against the accused are that between January 2011 and December 2015 the officials facilitated and approved payments of claims for services that were not rendered by these companies.

The companies, according to the state, were used by department officials as vehicles to commit the offences because they never rendered any service to the department.

The department processed and approved payments to the total amount of R8.7 million in favour of these companies between January 2011 and December 2015.

At least R2 758 978 was allegedly paid to Tsa Rona, while Siphilile Investment was paid R125 982.00.

Azrago received R97 500 and about R704 520 was paid into the account of Land Breeze Trading.

Amakholwa Consultancy and Zen Communications were paid R1 508 462 and R3 565 868 respectively.

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Mangaung warns residents to brace for heavy rainfall

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DISRUPTIVE DOWNPOUR LOOMING . . . Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned heavy rainfall is expected to pound the capital

The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned residents in and around the Free State capital to brace for heavy rainfall that could cause flooding this Friday.

The municipality is urging drivers to take extra caution by reducing speed and switching their headlights on, while pedestrians are being reminded to be careful when crossing the road and to avoid crossing rivers and streams where water is above the ankles.

“Residents of Mangaung Metro, particularly in the former Naledi region, are urged to be cautious on the road and in their homes as the South African Weather Service has issued an impact-based warning . . . for possible disruptive rainfall,” the metro said in a statement.

“This warning is valid for Friday, 20 May 2022 until Saturday, 21 May 2022.”

“Heavy rains are also predicted in Bloemfontein on Friday,” it added.

“Localised flooding can be expected in susceptible low-lying areas, roads, formal/informal settlements and bridges.” – Staff Reporter

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Mangaung speaker vows not to be silenced by charges

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DEFIANT . . . Mangaung council speaker Stefani Lockman-Naidoo

Mangaung council speaker Stefani Lockman-Naidoo has vowed not to stop fighting corruption in the metro after she was summoned to a disciplinary hearing set for next month for disobeying her party, the ANC, resulting in the axing and suspension of senior officials in the municipality.

The ANC Mangaung Interim Regional Committee (IRC) has summoned her to a disciplinary hearing on June 7 to answer to charges of knowingly and intentionally defying a resolution of the ANC Caucus in council after she allowed a motion to be debated without referring it to party structures in the council.

Lockman-Naidoo’s tiff with her party dates back to January when the Mangaung IRC announced her suspension after she was accused of defying the ANC’s instruction no to proceed with a sitting which resulted in then acting city manager Sello More being removed from office.

The Mangaung speaker also told The Free Stater on Thursday that she was being targeted for presiding over a recent council sitting that resolved to suspend several allegedly corrupt officials in the municipality.

“We are being charged for suspending a corrupt HOD (head of department),” said Lockman-Naidoo, referring to David Nkaiseng who heads corporate services.

A council meeting held on May 12 – after receiving an investigation report from Matlho Attorneys – resolved, among others, to bring charges against Nkaiseng for his alleged role in unlawfully appointing the officials resulting in the flouting of municipal policy of appointment of officials as well as flouting municipal staff regulations and the code of conduct for municipal officials.

“We are being targeted because we are purging these corrupt officials of Mangaung,” charged Lockman-Naidoo.

“I will not tolerate any corruption . . . Wherever I go I will be known as that speaker that didn’t tolerate corruption,” she added confidently.

The speaker was however quick to point out that those charging her had no authority to do so.

“But you see, the charges are not from the ANC because they didn’t ask for permission from the provincial coordinator (Paseka Nompondo) to charge us,” she said.

“The region itself is an illegitimate structure. Its term has expired and these are just factions . . .

“It’s a faction of the region that is charging us – it’s not the ANC.

“They are the ones that are purging us because we are not part of their faction.

“This is what’s going on. They don’t tolerate me.”

Lockman-Naidoo claimed the faction was not happy with the suspension of the HOD.

“The council resolution . . . says several criminal charges must be opened against the HOD himself and relevant officials,” she said.

“And I’m wrong for suspending a person like that?

“I don’t mind being charged at all because we did the right thing as council.

“They are saying . . . they are charging us because I allowed the item to sit in council.

“It’s not my item – it’s a council item. I couldn’t remove it. There was nothing I could do.”

Council also resolved that Nzimeni Maswabi be charged by acting city manager for his role in approving unlawful staff appointments.

It also wants Thabang Joseph Mpeli to be charged for his role in the drafting of unlawful appointment letters.

However, ANC Mangaung IRC spokesperson Ncamisa Ngxangisa has dismissed Lockman-Naidoo’s claims saying the party was not targeting anyone but it simply wanted to put its house in order.

In a separate interview, Ngxangisa said there were concerns some councillors could be working with the opposition, hence the probe.

“We are not targeting individuals. We are dealing with members of the ANC who happen to be councillors in this regard,” he told The Free Stater.

“This is after we received concerns that there could be some members who are voting with the opposition, against the position of the caucus of the ANC in that municipality.

“We took everything as it is, and referred the matter to our sub-committee that deals with issues of discipline so that they inquire into all these allegations levelled against all these comrades.

“But at the same time, it gives these comrades an opportunity to respond or query any evidence that may be presented against them.”

Ngxangisa said every organisation implements disciplinary processes when something goes wrong and the ANC was only exercising its right to do so.

“We are a political party, we contest elections,” he said.

“We are relying on our councillors to make sure that our policy position and decisions find expression in that council.

“If there are allegations that such is not happening, any self-loving political party will stand up and do something about it.

“These accusations are neither here nor there – no one is targeted.

“There are concerns that the centre is not holding in that municipality.

“Our caucus through the chief whip is not given enough support by our councillors and there are such allegations.

“That’s a cause for serious concern which must be attended to so that the ANC can at least enjoy its majority in that municipality.”

The Mangaung IRC spokesperson emphasised that the ANC was firmly against any corrupt activities but indicated that councillors were expected to represent the interests of the party and not their own.

“When we say all councillors must toe this line, we expect everyone to toe that line. Anyone who goes astray is a concern to us,” he said.  – Staff Reporter

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Centlec warns cable theft masterminds

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STOLEN . . . Part of the copper cable recovered by the police

Power distribution company Centlec has issued a stern warning to people believed to be hired by unknown individuals or syndicates to steal copper cables from the power lines saying it will not allow them to destroy such key infrastructure and put the country’s economy at risk.

“This is war and we will fight it tooth and nail,” said Centlec in a statement.

“We want to send a strong message to the criminals and their handlers that we will not rest until they are behind bars,” added the company, which distributes electricity to Mangaung and surrounding municipalities.

It said it is aware that most of the criminals are just fronts who are sent by kingpins who then process the copper before selling it.

Centlec warned the kingpins that they would soon face the full might of the law.

“Some of the fronts happen to be vulnerable foreign nationals who are being used to steal our cables by their handlers,” said the company.

A joint operation by Centlec and the police in recent weeks has led to several arrests and the recovery of hundreds of kilogrammes of copper cable destined for scrapyards.

In the latest three incidents, a man was arrested in Botshabelo after being found in possession of copper cable believed to have been stolen.

Several people were also arrested following inspections at two scrapyards in Botshabelo where large amounts of copper were found.

At a scrapyard in Bloemfontein, a man was issued with a fine after he was found with copper weighing 150kg which he failed to account for.

Investigations are still underway to ascertain the real owner of the scrapyard for possible arrest.

“We are worried that many of these scrapyards are becoming a haven for criminals and promoting criminality,” said Centlec chief executive officer Malefane Sekoboto. – Staff Reporter

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