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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


eThekwini Municipality suspends officials linked to R17m fraud

Six more eThekwini officials have been issued with letters of intent to suspend.


The eThekwini Municipality has suspended officials linked to purportedly irregular and fraudulent transactions totalling R17 million.

It is understood the transactions relate to three housing projects in Umlazi T-Section, eMaphephetheni and in KwaMakhutha in KwaZulu-Natal.

The municipality said the officials were suspended after the municipality, through its internal control processes, last month uncovered an elaborate fraudulent scheme in which R17 million was paid to two companies.

More suspensions

Spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said six more officials have been issued with letters of intent to suspend.

Sisalana said details of how the payments were processed are part of an ongoing investigation by the City Integrity and Investigations Unit.

“Contrary to a report in The Mercury on October 13, the amount involved in the scheme is R17 million, not R32 million. The money also did not ‘disappear’ or go ‘missing’ as the article implies but it was fraudulently transferred.”

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Sisilana added the three housing projects linked to the fraudulent scheme have nothing to do with resettling flood victims as they are ordinary projects of the municipality’s Human Settlements Unit.

“The three housing projects are continuing, however, there will be a budget shortfall in the current financial year which means their estimated completion will now be during the 2024/25 financial year.”

eThekwini remains committed to rooting out fraud and corruption wherever it rears its ugly head. This is done through continuous tightening of internal control processes and through taking harsh action against officials implicated in wrongdoing,” Sisilana said.

Employment

Meanwhile, National Treasury has cut funding for the Public Employment Programme (PEP) in eThekwini, prompting the city to immediately terminate 3 541 of the more than 6 000 temporary employees hired through the programme.

In a statement, Sisilana said those who have been retained are expected to work until June 2024, when the programme ends.

“This is indeed a very disappointing development that is beyond the municipality’s control.”

She said the municipality had been “hard at work exploring various solutions to minimise the impact on beneficiaries”.

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