Hawks probe Cape Town councillors over alleged church fraud scheme

The saga follows a supposed conduit transaction scheme involving R150,000 which the Good Party says it fears is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Hawks in the Western Cape confirmed it is investigating allegations of money laundering involving DA councillors, an NGO and a church in Cape Town.

The saga follows a supposed conduit transaction scheme involving R150,000 which the Good Party says it fears is just the tip of the iceberg.

It all started with a supposed directive from the city of Cape Town last year asking councillors to identify humanitarian organisations to allocate funds to, supposedly for food relief.

According to Good Party spokesperson Brett Heron, this was already unlawful, because such a process was supposed to have happened through public calls for applications, rather than allowing politicians to earmark where the funds should go.  Last week, the party wrote to Cape Town mayor Dan Plato asking him to publicly confirm that city officials are under investigation by the Hawks over the alleged laundering and misuse of city funds.

The City has denied all the allegations, describing them as simply political opportunism.

City spokesperson Greg Wagner said in a statement: “The city dismisses continued misinformation by a member of the provincial legislature around food relief support to registered organisations. All funds spent on humanitarian relief are fully audited, allocated 100% in line with the city’s supply chain process and not subject to political interference in any way.”

Also Read: Officials off the hook in NGO fraud racket

Western Cape Hawks spokesperson Zinzi Hani confirmed the investigation is linked to the arrest of Reuben Swartz, the head of an NGO called Sarco in Cape Town for allegedly stealing from the Covid-19 TERS system. The NGO was fingered by the police for suspected fraud when it added the names of non-existent employees to its claim for pandemic relief.

The same organisation allegedly acted as a conduit for a non-compliant church to receive R150,000 in city funds, supposedly to the benefit of the poor. But Herron says the money was used to buy food parcels which may have been used by councillors to buy votes from the poor.

“The identities of all the alleged conspirators are known to Good. What is not known at this stage is whether the money was to be used to advance the prospects of a particular DA candidate in an internal battle for position, or to benefit the party more generally. Local government elections are to be held in October,” says Herron.

  • This story has been updated to include the response from the City of Cape Town. For the full response, click here.



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