The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the JB Marks Municipality in Potchefstroom expressed its concern and outrage after it came to light that JB Marks Speaker, KEG Mogoeemang, had, for longer than 10 days, withheld an urgent letter addressed to Council from the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA), Gordon Kegakilwe. (Letter attached)
In the letter dated 19 November 2019, the MEC gives a directive to the Council to urgently convene a Special Council meeting during which alleged legislative violations by Executive Mayor Khotso Khumalo should be discussed.
The Speaker was also instructed to appoint a committee at this council meeting to investigate the breach of the Code of Conduct for Councilors by Khumalo.
The matter stems, among other things, from the alleged unlawful withdrawal and expenditure of public funds from a JB Marks Trust account allegedly held by local law firm, namely Willem Coetzee Attorneys.
A lavish visit to the annual Durban July horse race, under the guise of a liaison and marketing campaign, was funded directly from these public funds, which were held in trust for the Council.
The DA has already lodged a complaint with the Special Investigation Unit (Hawks) on 12 August 2019.
In his letter, the MEC also directly refers to instructions from a Mr. CP Henry, a director in the Municipality, who gave written instructions that certain payments had to be made from the trust account. Also, in this regard, the MEC instructs that the conduct of Mr Henry should be investigated.
Withholding important information from Council members, especially where it has financial and legal implications, has now become common practice in the JB Marks Municipality.
The manner in which the Speaker deals with the directive addressed to the Council confirms this practice and reinforces perceptions that there are individuals in the Council who are increasingly managing public finances in a manner reminiscent of a criminal cartel with a total absence of accountability to the council and the general public.
The prima facie evidence on this matter, to which the MEC also refers in his directive, supported by the Speaker’s failure to urgently convene a Special Council meeting, necessitates the DA to call for the immediate suspension of the Executive Mayor pending the investigation of the committee.
The wide involvement of officials in misappropriation of funds indicates a possibility of interference in the investigations that are already underway, and also what is yet to follow.
The DA has already written a letter to the Speaker this morning and will decide on further action, which may also include an investigation into the possible negligence on the Speaker’s part.
The DA will also report the latest developments to the Hawks, who are already investigating the allegations, so that all persons who actively and passively cooperate to prevent the truth from being disclosed can be given the opportunity to appear in court to explain their actions.