The four eMalahleni officials were nabbed on Wednesday mid-day this week after Hawks completed investigations on a case opened last year.
The eMalahleni Magistrates Court released Johannes Matshipa, Mbuswana Mdluli, Ntombi Sibuyi and Augustine Mkhwanazi on R5 000 bail each.
The four officials of the troubled Mpumalanga municipality appeared in court on Thursday morning (16 Feb) for land fraud.
Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told 013NEWS that the court granted Matshipa,(49), Mdluli (39), Sibuyi (44) and Mkhwanazi (59) bail on condition that “they must not interfere with members of the management of eMalahleni municipality”.
“The court postponed the matter to 21 April 2017 for further investigations,” Mulaudzi said.
The fraud charges relate to the leasing of land in Ga-Nala in the eMalahleni area.
The council leased land to two farmers, but money that should have been paid into the municipality’s coffers was allegedly paid into an account belonging to a company called ‘Nutra Trading and Projects’.
According to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), Nutra Trading & Projects was registered on 23 June 2015. Its registered address is in Thubelihle, Kriel and Sibuyi is its only director.
Matshipa, who is a member of eMalahleni mayor Lindiwe Ntshalintshali’s executive committee, was arrested during a council sitting at the municipality when members of the elite crime fighting unit arrived unannounced, shocking other politicians who were busy with council’s business.
Mdluli is a former ward councillor, while Sibuyi is a member of the municipal cooperative governance department and Mkhwanazi a former speaker.
Municipal spokesman Kingdom Mabuza said they were all shocked when cops disrupted a council sitting to nail Matshipa.
“The Municipality was aware of an investigation conducted by the Hawks when allegations of fraud related to the sale of farms started spreading about eight months ago.
“The municipality under the leadership of the executive mayor co-operated fully during the investigation,” Mabuza said.
“The opposition, particularly the DA, falsely accused the municipal manager, Theo Van Vuuren, of corruption related to the sale of farms.
“The arrest, which is highly regrettable, will hopefully result into the DA to desist from further accusing Van Vuuren of imaginary corruption and allow him to execute his duties.
“The unfortunate and baseless perception planted by the DA against Van Vuuren has resulted in, among other things, diminishing respect and trust within the communities, failure to focus on his duties, and reluctance by the community and business to cooperate on issues of payment for service,” he said.
(edited by ZK)
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