13 December 2018

South Africa: VBS Saga - Hawks Investigate Seven Former Limpopo Mayors

The Hawks are hot on the heels of the seven municipal mayors forced to resign by the ANC in Limpopo over their involvement in the infamous VBS Mutual Bank scandal.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed on Thursday that investigations were already under way. The ANC, on the other hand, has kickstarted a process to appoint new mayors.

However, Mulaudzi could not be drawn into confirming whether the investigations also include Danny Msiza, the ANC provincial treasurer who resigned from his position on Tuesday.

Msiza was named in advocate Terry Motau's report into the VBS saga as one of the senior ANC officials in Limpopo who benefitted immensely. He is currently fighting in the North Gauteng High Court to have parts of the report expunged.

"The investigations are ongoing and we are not obliged to give details on the matter," Mulaudzi said.

The seven mayors under investigation include Florence Radzilani of Vhembe district municipality. Radzilani, who is also the ANC provincial deputy chairperson, was the first to resign on Tuesday - the day the provincial treasury report into the VBS saga was released.

The others are Mildred Shonisani (Makhado), Joyce Bila (Collins Chabane), Nakedi Sibanda (Lepelle-Nkumpi), Sasavona Mathebula (Greater Giyani), Johannes Phokane (Tubatse-Fetakgomo) and Bela Kupa (Ephraim Mogale).

Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha's spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, said the government was providing all the necessary support to law enforcement agencies on investigating possible criminal charges and ensuring that "lost monies are recouped".

"Of course, this is a process," Mathivha said.

The provincial treasury report released on Tuesday found that all municipal officials and mayors admitted knowledge of the Municipal Finance Management Act, the Municipal Management Act, the Municipal Structures Act and the Municipal Systems Act.

However, they all went ahead and violated the core elements of the laws by investing a combined R2.6bn with VBS - an institution which was not registered as a bank in terms of the Banks Act 94 of 1990.

Some of the mayors and officials are suspected to have received kickbacks for investing municipal funds with VBS. The bank has since been liquidated and the investments are feared to have been permanently lost.

The ANC in the province has indicated that its own investigation into the circumstances that led the municipalities to invest with VBS found serious weaknesses in the deployment strategy, thereby suggesting that the implicated mayors were not the right candidates.

The party has also emphasised its determination to ensure that the recommendations of the provincial treasury report are implemented.

Its spokesperson Donald Selamolela said the process to replace the dismissed mayors was under way.

"We need to assure our people that the process will be conducted in such [a] way that we indeed provide the best we ever had because we have learned a great lesson out of this VBS saga," Selamolela said.

"The appointment process of new mayors has already started - and they are looking at the best candidates," he said.

Source: News24

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