An explosive forensic report dealing with allegations of massive fraud, corruption and mismanagement in the Nelson Mandela metro will remain secret until at least the end of next month as there are fears it could affect the province’s economy, the Sunday Independent reports.
The report, dealing with issues of corruption in the Port Elizabeth municipality between 2003 and 2009, was compiled by forensic investigations firm Kabuso. However, its contents have never been made public.
A letter written by MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs Mlibo Qoboshiyane to Parliament last month lists the reasons why the report should not be made public yet.
Chief among these is that “the release of the Kabuso report, at this stage, will in all probability adversely prejudice the municipality in any possible negotiations or litigations.
The economy in and around the municipality, the Eastern Cape province and the republic will be at risk or at least severely affected should the report be made available at this stage”.
Other reasons given include the fact that private information about individuals and companies is contained in the report, and that it contains information of as yet unreleased municipal reports.
Qoboshiyane said the report “will definitely be made public” but added that, by law, if third parties are identified in an investigation of this nature they should be allowed time to respond.
Port Elizabeth newspaper The Herald has said it is launching a High Court bid to have the document released.
A separate forensic report by Ramathe Fivaz, which the newspaper obtained last week through legal action, appeared not to have been completed as it did not contain a response from former municipal manager Graham Richards, who was being investigated.
Qoboshiyane said he had arranged to meet with the municipality soon to discuss the Kabuso report, after which it would be tabled at council.
Its contents detail irregularities in several major projects in the area, including:
- The Madiba Bay Leisure Park project, a R4.5 billion project aimed at boosting tourism in the area. The project has had several setbacks and false starts and has never got off the ground.
- The Embizwni development – a multi-million-rand housing and tourism development.
- The upgrade of the Van Stadens Resort. In 2004 a 40-year lease was given to Buhlebendalo with the plan that the resort be revamped and upgraded. But six years later, an investigation by The Herald revealed the only development carried out was the building of a few upmarket rondavels for the private use of Buhlebendalo’s Kobus Smit and his wife.
- The leasing of Kwantu towers by the municipality, a building owned by the Jeeva family, said to be good friends with former mayor Nceba Faku.
The investigation also looked at whether councillors and senior managers in the municipality had declared their interests and other indirect business, whether supply-chain management procedures had been followed, and the dismissals and disciplinary proceedings of “certain municipal officials”.
It is widely believed the report exonerates the city’s former municipal manager Graham Richards, who was suspended in 2009 on allegations of poor work performance and irregular conduct, before being given a R3 million golden handshake at the end of last year.
Several of the areas covered in the investigation were listed as reasons for Richards’s suspension at the time.
Leon de Villiers, the DA caucus leader in the metro, said in a statement “the ruling party in the metro and this province have some explaining to do. They must be held accountable for the mismanagement of this municipality and for the total lack of transparency.
“Those persons who looted the valuable resources that could have been used to provide services to the poorest of the poor must be brought to book”.
The municipality has also in recent months experienced a major cashflow crisis, primarily as a result of overspending on the World Cup, which has resulted in severe service delivery budget cuts.
The Kabuso investigation into the municipality is just one of the investigations undertaken in 20 municipalities in the province.
Qoboshiyane said 20 municipalities of the province’s 46 had been investigated by either the Hawks, the Special Investigations Unit or the province’s anti-fraud unit for issues such as corruption and non-compliance.
Credit to: Sunday Independent