THE police’s elite crime busting unit, the Hawks, is set to add more charges as the net closes in on the suspects believed to have stolen R1 million from the Greater Letaba Municipality in Limpopo.
Limpopo Hawks spokesperson Matimba Maluleke said the unit was likely to add charges of corruption after picking up several witnesses for questioning in recent weeks.
Cope councillor in the Greater Letaba Municipality Thomas Senyolo, one of the people who laid criminal charges against municipal officials, said his week that he has now escalated the matter to the Office of Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha for intervention, “because he says he is fighting corruption in the municipalities”.
This comes after the impoverished municipality in the Mopani district allegedly paid R1 086.000,00 into the account of a training company linked to former Mopani ANC Youth League (ANCYL) regional secretary Thulani Twala in November 2016, for services that were not rendered — in a suspected case of fraud and collusion.
According to official documents – including a service level agreement between the municipality and Data Tecture PTY Ltd, proof of payment and other internal correspondence – the company was supposed to have trained municipal councillors and officials in finance management over a period of 12 months but this never happened.
Maluleke confirmed they were probing three counter charges of fraud. However, he would not be drawn into discussing the status of the cases.
“The first one is that one which Cope opened against the municipality of Greater Letaba where they alleged that they paid R1 million to a certain company for services not rendered. The other one was opened by that company because the owner alleges that the money was paid into a wrong account. Even the municipality has opened a case against that particular company. So, it’s counter charges,” said Maluleke.
“We are investigating cases of fraud but there is a high possibility of adding other charges of corruption because, usually, fraud goes with corruption. Corruption goes with fraud more especially with these things of companies and tenders.”
Maluleke said no one had been charged yet, but “our investigation will lead us to the right suspects”.
Asked how many people have been questioned by the Hawks in relation to the case, Maluleke replied: “It is part of the investigation of which I cannot divulge because sometimes we interview witnesses and those people we think can assist in the investigation of our case. I think it’s something that needs to remain secret.”
Senyolo said apart from the criminal case, he laid a complaint with the Public Protector’s office and escalated the matter to Mathabatha.
“The Public Protector’s Office said they would give me a reference number after allocating the case to an investigator. The community is also angry about the issue. So, there is also an issue of mobilising because people want that money back,” Senyolo said.
“We have also sent the document to the Premier’s Office. He said in his speech [SOPA] that that they fight corruption. So, we want to see how they are going to deal with this matter.”
Mathabatha’s spokesperson Kenny Mathivha could not be reached to confirm receipt of Cope’s dossier.
African Times reported two weeks ago that insiders at the Greater Letaba Municipalities – including two councillors and an official – had accused Mopani ANC regional secretary Basikopo Makamu of intervening to stop the council from taking action against the culprits, a claim Makamu vehemently denied.
Sources had also accused Mayor Peter Matlou of protecting implicated officials – Chief Financial Officer Flora Mankgabe and Head of Corporate Affairs Bertha Letsoalo – whose contracts subsequently amid the fraud cases.
They said Matlou had a closer relationship with Mankgabe, who refused to comment.
Mayor Matlou failed to return calls and a text message for comment.
His spokesperson, Lovers Mainetje, said: “Kindly note that the Greater Letaba Municipality has opened a case against Data Texture which will mean that we cannot discuss details of the case as it is Sub judice and we would appreciate for that to be respected.”
Both Twala and Makamu have previously dismissed all claims levelled against them.
Twala said he was a victim of fraud while Makamu insisted that, “the ANC has never instructed anybody to disregard any finding of any Chapter 9 Institution whether it is fraud or corruption and we will not do that anyway”.