How officials plundered R358 million from a single municipality

A forensic report on Mpumalanga’s Thaba Chweu Local Municipality, shows how officials plundered as much as R358.7 million, through wasteful and irregular expenses, according to a report in the City Press.The report found that officials allegedly allocated houses to themselves and their families, paid businesses for work not done, flouted tender processes, and they also reportedly sold off municipal land ‘cheaply’.

According to the City Press, the municipality has been close to bankruptcy for eight years, burning through R358.7 million in the process. It owes Eskom as much as R400 million, while 16 acting municipal managers have come and gone since 2010.

Worse still, auditors from Audit and Risk Management Solutions stated that there are no recorded documents for any transactions between 2011 and 2014. The report’s findings come from transactions since the 2015/16 financial year.

According to the City Press, questionable transactions include:

  • The municipality appointed an attorney on a R120,000 monthly retainer, but officials diverted work to other law firms at a cost of R3.5 million instead.
  • A forensic and risk firm was allegedly paid R840,000 to investigate cable theft without following tender processes. Payments were not linked to any outcome.
  • Private companies disposed of stands worth R14.9m, but the money for the land did not find its way to the municipality’s coffers.
  • Three road construction projects worth R7.7 million were authorised without any documentation. Two were so badly built “that the money must be recovered”.

Read: What it’s like living in a small town in South African where things are falling apart

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How officials plundered R358 million from a single municipality