The City of Joburg has cracked the whip on the multimillion-rand Waterfall Investment Company and a Johannesburg Water employee for alleged water theft during the development of Waterfall City in Midrand, reports Fourways Review.
An engineer from Johannesburg Water, Faisel Abrahams, and two employees from Waterfall Investment Company, including a project manager Irvine Steyn and a credit and rates controller Yvette Scheepers, were arrested for illegally obtaining water metres and stealing water worth millions of rands.
Abrahams was arrested on May 26 and appeared before the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on 28 May. His co-accused, Steyn and Scheepers, were arrested at their workplace on May 30 and were detained at the Johannesburg Central Police Station.
They appeared before the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on May 31.
All suspects face charges of fraud and corruption. They were granted R5 000 bail each, and are expected to appear before the court again on July 19.
The arrests follow after an investigation by the City’s Group Forensic and Investigation Services Unit and Operation Buya Mthetho, which discovered that instead of applying for a bulk water meter that costs R140 000, the Midrand-based company allegedly obtained water meters illegally from Abrahams and used them during construction at Waterfall City. The meters used were not registered on the City’s billing system.
“It is unfortunate that some developers have found ways to engage in irregular practices which seek to circumvent due process and end with massive revenue leakages for the City,” said City of Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba.
He added that the City loses between R5 billion and R8 billion annually due to revenue leakages and accounts being deleted off the billing system.
The Operation Buya Mthetho team is currently conducting an audit of all the water meters installed at Waterfall City and to establish the total water consumption by Waterfall Investment Company.
“The City, working with all state enforcement agencies, will not leave any stone unturned when dealing with criminal activities within our area of jurisdiction. I hope that the residents of Johannesburg will support our Operation Buya Mthetho initiative and report crime and criminals to our authorities,” added Mashaba.
Waterfall Investment Company CEO Willie Vos said the company was not aware of the allegations and have appointed an internal forensic investigation team to probe the matter.
“This is a very regrettable matter. We have begun with our investigation and both employees are cooperating. As soon as we are clear about the facts we will work with the authorities and give a report back to the community,” he said.
Both Steyn and Scheepers are currently on special leave pending investigation.