9 municipal officials convicted of financial misconduct in last 14 years – Lamola

Davies

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola.

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola.

  • Since 2006, 67 municipal officials have been prosecuted for financial misconduct, and of the 67, only nine have been convicted.
  • In one Eastern Cape municipality, five of the seven accused were convicted of contravening Section 173 of the Municipal Finance Management Act.
  • The DA plans to request Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to establish a dedicated team to assist the National Prosecuting Authority.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has announced only nine municipal officials have been convicted of crimes related to financial misconduct since 2006.

Lamola revealed this in response to a written parliamentary question from DA MP Cilliers Brink.

Since 2006, he said, only 67 people have been prosecuted for financial misconduct in municipalities, and of the 67, only nine have been convicted.

The convictions were also limited to four of South Africa’s 278 municipalities – Cacdu and Senqu in the Eastern Cape, Hoogland in the Northern Cape, and Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape.

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Under Section 173 of the Municipal Finance Management Act, senior municipal officials and councillors can be criminally prosecuted for financial misconduct that falls short of outright fraud and corruption.

Lamola said in the Senqu Local Municipality, five of the seven accused were convicted for contravening section 173.

Most of the convicted were sentenced to between two and five years’ imprisonment wholly and conditionally suspended for five years.

One of those convicted was also given a R5 000 fine.

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The official in the Hoogland case was given the option of a R5 000 fine or 12 months’ imprisonment.

In Oudtshoorn, the convicted official was sentenced to five direct years’ imprisonment which was reduced to two years on appeal in the Western Cape High Court.

Irregular expenditure 

Prosecutions in several municipalities were also withdrawn.

These include the Mbizana Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape, Oudtshoorn Municipality, Cederberg Local Municipality in Clanwilliam, Swellendam Municipality and the Drakenstein Municipality in Paarl – all in the Western Cape.

Every year, Brink said, municipalities incurred billions of rand in irregular expenditure.

“So, for example, a municipal manager who deliberately or through gross negligence allows tender regulations to be flouted on his or her watch can get be jailed or receive a suspended sentence.

“Evidence of these cases is not in short supply – just consider the findings of the Auditor-General and the routine expenditure and tender reports municipalities have to send to councillors and National Treasury.”

Brink added the DA had asked parliamentary questions about the progress of several high-profile criminal investigations in municipalities.

“These cases include the PEU smart meter contract in the City of Tshwane, and the unlawful investment of municipal funds in the VBS Mutual Bank,” he said.

The DA plans to ask Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to establish a dedicated team to assist the National Prosecuting Authority with section 173 offences.

According to Lamola, no one had been prosecuted under the provisions of Section 119 of the Municipal Systems Act.

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