Democracy Zwane is owed R70m in dodgy Ermelo govt deal

He is said to be a rich man and a closer friend of deputy president DD Mabuza.

Mpumalanga ANC PEC member Democracy Zwane is reportedly owed an amount of R70 million in a dodgy Ermelo deal that saw a municipal property being bought by him and then given back to the municipality for renting.

The deal is now the subject of a Hawks investigation and documents have already been obtained by investigators.

Zwane bought the public property for just over R430 000, then proceeded to charge the Msukaligwa local municipality in Ermelo an amount of R800 000 each month to rent the land from him, the Sunday Times reports.

The paper said it saw the agreement between the Democracy Family Trust and the municipality – and the document details the sale of a 1.3ha property in Ermelo to the trust by the municipality 11 years ago. The property has on it a reservoir and a water-pressure structure that pumps water in the area

Samuel “Dube” Democracy Zwane is the only trustee of the trust and now he is the subject of a fraud and corruption investigation by the Hawks.

The R70 million that is owed by the municipality to Zwane is due to arrears in renting his property.

Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told the Sunday Times that they had obtained documents at the municipality and were busy probing fraud and corruption.

He said the Hawks had referred the matter to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s proclamation and for assistance in further investigation.

The Hawks are not commenting further on the matter until “certain individuals are approached for statements,” Mulaudzi said.

Democracy Zwane is owed R70m in dodgy Ermelo govt deal

The municipal water reservoir in Ermelo that is now privately owned. PIC SIMPHIWE NKWALI/ Sunday Times

An insider who alerted the Hawks about the alleged corruption at the municipality told the national weekly that this was discovered during a council meeting in January 2018.

“The municipality presented their financial records and among them was a R56.3m legal bill, but there was no explanation as to what it was for.

“In court records I found agreements for the sale, lease and how the municipality had paid for the relocation of water-servitude pipes so Zwane could develop his property. The agreements were signed by different Ermelo municipal managers between 2008 and 2016.

“The documents show how in 2013 Zwane swapped his properties for a property of the same size across the road next to the airport. When the airport management learnt of his plans to build a shopping centre and fuel station and put a stop to it, he had reversed the property swap.

“At that point there was no lease agreement with the municipality. That only came in February 2016 when they signed the lease agreement, and they backdated it to 2011.”

According to the Municipal Financial Management Act, a municipality may only sell a capital asset if a decision has been taken in a council meeting.

This is also permitted only if the asset is not needed to provide services to people, and a fair market value for the asset is required.

But the Ermelo property sale and its rental had been kept secret from the council, until the legal bill got discovered. No explanation has ever been provided about the rental and the reasons why it was signed in 2016 – eight years after the property was bought, or why it was backdated to 2011 after being signed in 2016.

Court documents seen by the Sunday Times show how the municipality accepted the lawfulness of the rental agreement that they have with Zwane. There was never a time when they challenged it.

ALSO SEE: Vusi Magaza appointed Victor Khanye municipal manager against co-operative governance rules

In September 2017, Zwane successfully sued the Msukaligwa municipality for R53.6m in rental arrears dating back to 2011.

The land was one of two adjoining properties Zwane bought from the municipality. He bought the first in July 2005. He then built a shopping centre and fuel station on that land.

Though the 2017 judgment instructed the municipality to pay what is owed to Zwane when he was in court suing them but it is believed officials only paid Zwane R5m. He is now owed R70.8m.

Both the municipality and the SIU are not commenting on the matter.

They say the matter is still under investigations.

Zwane’s lawyers said they would respond to media queries but needed sufficient time to look to questions.

(edited by ZK) 

Send tip-offs to [email protected]

Witnesses say Colonel Sy Maseko’s killers came in three cars

He was gunned down in his driveway Tuesday night this week.

Witnesses who saw Ackerville top cop Lieutenant-Colonel Simon ‘Sy’ Maseko being gunned down outside his home this week have said that his killers drove in three cars, which included a white Toyota Quantum.

They say Maseko was actually shot three times to the head and not six times as previously reported.

He died on the spot outside his Ackerville township home before 8 on Tuesday night this week and his assassins left in a Polo, Mercedes-Benz and a white Toyota Quantum, those who saw it happen have said.

Maseko, who was in his 50s, was a commander of crime prevention at the Vosman police station in eMalahleni and national commander General Khehla Sitole has instructed the police organisation to do all in its power to find the suspects.

Sitole said the killing of the cop was an “attack on the nation” and “as a nation we need to rally together to bring these continued attacks on our [members] to a grinding halt”.

One of the witnesses said he was coming from a shop and walking through Mtsuki Street when he heard gunshots at the man’s home.

“His car was cornered by the Quantum and the Polo and the Mercedes was on the side of the street.  Then the three cars dashed off. Afterwards the whole township heard that the men were actually killing Sy,” one of the witnesses who live in the township said Thursday.

“Though I can’t say what colour were the Merc and Polo as it was dark but the Quantum was white. I saw it,” the witness said when they spoke to the 013NEWS reporter on Thursday morning.

“They were together. Anybody could tell they were travelling together because of the speed they used when they left after the gunshots, ” the witness said.

Witnesses say Colonel Sy Maseko's killers came in three cars

Lieutenant-Colonel Simon ‘Sy’ Maseko

Maseko was also involved in the police’s brass band.

National police spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said Maseko’s killers left the scene without taking anything. He added the motive for killing the man is still not known.

He said all police divisions have been “mobilised”, including the Hawks, crime intelligence and tactical response teams for the sole purpose of finding Maseko’s killers.

The police are appealing to anyone with information to call 082 462 0804, 082 567 4153, 082 556 5356 or 086 00 10111.

Callers may remain anonymous and information will be treated with “strictest confidence,” Naidoo said.

(edited by ZK) 

Send tip-offs to [email protected]

Dr Vawda and family are robbed at gunpoint

He said the three men that entered his home were speaking in siSwati.

 EFF member of Parliament, Dr Younus Vawda is reportedly thanking God after being left uninjured by three armed men who came to his Barberton home of Mpumalanga and robbed the family of money.

The ordeal at the Mpumalanga politician occurred last Friday night and the entire Vawda family was threatened with guns before being tied up, the Lowvelder has reported.

Vawda said he was in the shower late on that night when three men came to him and held him up. They were speaking SiSwati and took him to the rest of the family members who were tied up in the sitting room.

When he was there, the men ordered him to lie down and then demanded money.

Police spokesman Jabu Ndubane confirmed the incident.

He said Vawda’s family was held hostage and tied up, except for the elderly grandmother, in the house after 9 on Friday night.

Vawda told the men he didn’t keep cash in the house. They then searched his room and found the keys for his BMW X5.

The men continued to threaten the family and Vawda eventually transferred R19.000 from his credit card to his debit card, said Ndubane.

“The suspects then drove away with his BMW. They also took an iPhone, iPad and MacBook. The items together are worth about R947,000,” the police said.

Ndubane added the MP’s car was later discovered abandoned in eMjindini’s Extension 11, and the men had withdrawn the cash.

Vawda, a medical doctor by profession, became a member of Parliament on an EFF ticket during the 2014 general elections.

(edited by MLM) 

Send tip-offs to [email protected]

Kwagga residents demand water and job opportunities 

Both the police and ANC condemned the torching down of a government building in the area.

Residents in Kwaggafontein are demanding that government officials give them the attention they deserve and supply them the water they promised as well as creating the job opportunities.

They say the Kwaggafontein area is like there is no government at all and have been patiently waiting for improvement but it appeared nothing was coming their way.

One of the residents says all that happens at the Thembisile Hani local municipality is elected officials enjoying life with public resources at their expense.

“They promised a lot of things these people and delivered nothing. Everyday we hold meetings and say the same thing about the issue of water. No running water. No jobs. Government has stopped. The area is like there is no government at all,” a Kgomotso said when speaking to the 013NEWS reporter Wednesday mid-day this week.

He said the rate of unemployment in the area “is worsened by this thing that even the government is not assisting”.

Kwagga residents demand water and job opportunities

A building belonging to the department of social service was touched down in the Kwaggafontein area. PIC Caxton

Another resident said they took advantage of the elections time and began looting shops belonging foreign nationals so that elected officials “give us attention and deliver on the things they know we need”.

“Especially the issue of water. Each and every councillor and mayor who has ever been elected knows that the issue is water. That’s the slogan they use when they campaign for votes, that they will solve the issue of water and create jobs for us”.

A building belonging to the department of social service in the Kwagga area was set alight in the early hours of Tuesday this week (16 Apr) by the residents.

Various shops belonging to foreign nationals were looted and vandalised,  as well as other properties, like road signs.

33 people were arrested and various others got shot quite badly with rubber bullets.

Police spokesman Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said the “havoc and mayhem” took place both in KwaMhlanga and Kwaggafontein since Monday morning this week – and “critical infrastructure and resources were destroyed”.

Kwagga residents demand water and job opportunities

“They appeared at the Mkobola Magistrates Court on Tuesday 16 April 2019 and were granted R3 000 bail each, with the case remanded to 10 May 2019, for further investigation. Another three people were arrested yesterday and processed at the same court today with the case remanded to 06 May 2019, each granted R1000.00 bail,” Hlathi said.

The ANC in the area said they condemn “in the strongest possible terms the acts of criminality”.

“The burning of the government property in Kwaggafontein is an act of anarchy and chaos by criminals acting under the disguise of service delivery protest,” spokesman Sello Matshoga said.

“Whilst the ANC reaffirms the right of all South Africans to legitimate and peaceful protest, no amount of legitimate grievance or disaffection warrants the destruction of public or private property,” Matshoga said.

Kwagga residents demand water and job opportunities

ANC’s Sello Matshoga. 013NEWS/ZK

He said the burning of the building is now going to make it hard for the pensioners who used it to receive their grant and that this “is an insult to democracy”.

“We bemoan this insensitive act and find it hard to believe that there are people who could commit such a crime with such impunity, lawlessness and contempt during the month that we celebrated the untarnished legacy of comrades Solomon Mahlangu, Chris Hani, Oliver Tambo and Winnie Madikizela Mandela. The destruction of public property, including schools, clinics and libraries, takes back the government’s service delivery programme significantly and should be condemned,” he said.

The ANCYL in the area also condemned the torching down of the building.

Spokesman Banele ‘Masheleni’ Nkosi said the “burning of public properties in the form of state vehicles and buildings, does not only represent the worst form of backwardness, but also undermines the government’s effort to deliver quality services to our people, because the assets destroyed are tools of trade meant for service delivery”.

“We call on the organisers of the protest and the leadership of the municipality to speedily find ways of engaging each other and resolving their areas of difference as speedily as it is practically possible. We make this call because we are extremely concerned about the disruption in the daily lives of ordinary citizens that this protest has caused. Learners are unable to go to school, workers are unable to commute to work, hawkers are unable to trade, those seeking services in health facilities are unable to access them and many other sections of people’s lives are disturbed.

“The ANCYL firmly believes that through proper engagements a lasting solution can be found with as little as possible distraction to people’s daily lives and public property. We hope that our plea of a constructive engagement between the two parties will not fall on deaf ears but heeded to in the interest of the majority of citizens of the municipality whose lives are on a stand still at the moment,” Nkosi said.

(edited by MLM) 

Send tip-offs to [email protected]

Sitole orders swift action after Ackerville top cop is shot dead

They have now mobilised all resources for the sole purpose of finding the killers.

National police boss General Khehla Sitole on Wednesday called for swift action in finding and arresting the killers of a top cop in the Ackerville township of eMalahleni.

Lieutenant-Colonel Simon ‘Sy’ Maseko died of six bullets outside his Ackerville home late Tuesday this week.

He was driving his Mercedes Benz and was coming from work when at least two men ambushed him after he had opened his gate. He died on his driveway.

The incident happened on Mtsuki Street in the Ackerville township of Mpumalanga, before 8 on Tuesday night (16 Apr).

Maseko, in his 50s,  was a Lieutenant-Colonel, working at Vosman police station.

National police boss General Khehla Sitole said the attack of an officer of law “is an attack on the nation”.

“I have tasked the [Mpumalanga] provincial team to spare no resources in tracking down those responsible,” said Sitole.

“As a nation we need to rally together to bring these continued attacks on our men and women in blue to a grinding halt,” said the police boss.

Police spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said Maseko’s killers left the scene without taking anything.

He said the motive for killing the man is still not known “at this stage”.

“General Sitole has instructed that the 72-hour Activation Plan be mobilised,” Naidoo said.

“This is a plan which entails the mobilisation of critical disciplines and resources of the SAPS including crime intelligence, forensic experts and seasoned investigators both from the police and the Hawks to ensure that no intelligence and evidence which could help track down the killers is lost,” he said.

Naidoo said that the police activation plan will also be supported by a specialised tactical team that will include members of the task force, the national intervention unit and/or the tactical response team “when the need arises”.

The SAPS is appealing to members of the public with any information on the killing of Maseko assist them by calling 086 00 10111. Callers may remain anonymous and information will be treated with “strictest confidence”.

(edited by MLM) 

Send tip-offs to [email protected]