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The Free State High Court in Bloemfontein has questioned why criminal action has yet to be instituted against the Kopanong municipality for its failure to pay over third-party contributions of millions of rands, deducted from employees’ salaries.
Judge Johannes Daffue posed the question during a judicial review on Monday, launched by the Municipal Workers’ Retirement Fund, formerly known as the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) National Provident Fund, regarding a November 2018 court order that blocked an auction of Kopanong’s assets at the eleventh hour.
Daffue stressed that Kopanong “is liable criminally for not paying over pension fund contributions” and he was at a loss as to why no criminal action has been launched.
The cash-strapped municipality is accused of defrauding its workers in third-party contributions of close to R80 million, with the debt to the Municipal Workers’ Retirement Fund alone making up over R2 million.
In 2018, Samwu opened a case against the municipality with police. The matter has, however, stalled.
The Samwu Union National Provident Fund, represented by Pieter van den Berg and Hannine Drake, asked the high court in November last year to review an order that blocked an auction of the cash-strapped municipality’s assets.
Meanwhile, the municipal council has, since March, placed the manager, Martin Kubeka, on special leave pending a probe into maladministration allegations levelled against him by employees, related to the failure to settle money owed to third-party contributions.
Following the suspension, the provincial department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) deployed a task team to also look into the matter.
Cogta MEC Thembeni Nxangisa recently said there were no updates on Kopanong as yet, but the department was continuing to provide support.
– OFM News
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