Bitou intervention: Court finds in Minister’s favour
The Department of Local Government in the Western Cape has sent a forensic team to Bitou to conduct an investigation into allegations of serious misconduct, following a judgement delivered in the Western Cape High Court on Friday.
The judgement found in favour of Anton Bredell, the minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape in a case brought by the Bitou council.
The council wanted to prevent a Section 106 intervention by the MEC into the dealings of the municipality following eleven different serious allegations of misconduct. These include an allegation of the establishment of “ghost companies” clandestinely run by municipal officials which performed non-existent contracts for the municipality.
“The judge found that there are a number of serious complaints levelled at the municipality and its staff, particularly involving employees located within the mayor’s office. The judge stated that each complaint was sufficiently serious to warrant forensic investigation,” says Bredell.
Bredell notes that the judge stated that an internal report done by the council was “superficial and worthless”.
“The judge added that the municipality’s lack of cooperation with the province was unlawful and smacked of an attempt to cover up its malfeasance,” says Bredell.
The judgement against the Bitou council ordered the council to comply with the S106 investigation initiated by Bredell and further demanded that the council must desist from impeding and or undermining the investigation.
Bredell says the provincial government has a zero tolerance policy toward corruption and will not hesitate to proactively deal with it.
“Our no-nonsense approach and our willingness to investigate anyone and everyone without fear or favour, is the reason why the Western Cape can claim to have the cleanest municipal governance in South Africa, with a full 21 of only 33 clean audits in the whole country being awarded in our province by the Auditor-General,” says Bredell.
“At the moment, there is an ongoing intervention in terms of Section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act in only two councils in the Western Cape, these are Bitou and George. It must be highlighted that implementing section 106 DOES NOT mean a council is being placed under administration. A S106 intervention might eventually lead down that route, but placing a council under administration would only happen as a last resort.”
In addition, 4 Western Cape municipalities are currently still the subject of an investigation by the Hawks. These are George, Kannaland, Beaufort West and Oudtshoorn.
“With regards to the last three, the matters relate to the years prior to the 2016 Local Government elections. With regards to George, I called in the Hawks earlier this year to look into allegations of fraud and corruption at the municipality. The matter remains ongoing,” says Bredell.
Spokesperson for the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell
Mobile: 084 583 1670
Telephone: 021 483 2820