Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane has welcomed the arrest of two Nelson Mandela Metropolitan municipal officials who are among of nine people who stand accused of fraud and money laundering to the tune of R56.4 million.
Zandisile Qupe, 49, Thando Ngcolomba, 60, Mhleleli Tshamase, 54, Walter Shaidi, 65, Nadia Gerwel, 55, Fareed Fakir, 51, Davit le Roux, 45, and Rukaard Abrahams, 30, were all granted bail ranging between R5 000 and R100 000 in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Friday. They face multiple fraud, corruption, and money laundering charges related to two projects in the municipality.
The ninth accused in the case, Mongameli Bobani, has died.
The Hawks estimate the loss to be R56.4 million, while the potential loss is estimated to be around R200 million.
“They include two former Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipal officials, two influential community office bearers as well as five businesspeople. [They] will be charged along with six juristic entities.” said Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase.
Nkwalase said that it was alleged that the process of choosing the service providers for the projects was irregular and their prices had allegedly been inflated.
“It is further alleged that influential office bearers colluded with municipal officials and controlled decision making in the appointments of specific persons in critical municipal posts. This was purportedly done to influence procurement processes as well as the appointments of entities willing to advance the interests of the syndicate,” said Nkwalase.
Qupe is a special advisor to Oscar Mabuyane, the premier of the Eastern Cape.
“After Mr Qupe was released on bail by the magistrate’s court, Premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane received his request for a leave of absence to allow him time to attend to the case he is now facing. Premier Mabuyane has agreed to the request for leave of absence by Mr Qupe and Premier Mabuyane will review this in due course within the labour relations framework regulating career incidents in the public service,” the statement read.
The arrests form part of ongoing investigations since 2017.
“This now forms the second leg of our investigation; on the first leg conducted in April 2017, we arrested six suspects that included two company directors, one entity, one municipal official and one person from Eastern Cape Province Rugby Union,” said Nkwalase.