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Hawks raid legislature offices

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The bank had apparently alerted the legislature to suspicious withdrawals that were being made

RAID: The Northern Cape Hawks raided the provincial legislature offices at the Metlife Towers yesterday morning and seized documents in connection with a corruption investigation. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE HAWKS’ Serious Corruption Unit searched three floors of the Metlife Towers yesterday, where documents were seized from the Northern Cape Legislature in connection with an investigation into corruption.

This follows after the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) in October last year laid charges of corruption, wasteful expenditure and defeating the ends of justice in regards to massive leave payouts and cash allowances that were allegedly irregularly paid out to the chief financial officer (CFO) and legislature secretary.

Charges were also laid against the deputy Speaker of the legislature, the former acting manager responsible for human capital and the head of staff in the Office of the Speaker.

Nehawu national spokesperson Khaya Xaba indicated that a letter was sent to the legislature, urging it to take action against the implicated officials by March 6, failing which the union would be taking the matter to court.

“We want the implicated officials, who are being protected internally, to face the wrath of the law because taxpayers’ money and state resources are involved. We will not rest until this matter is brought to a speedy conclusion and the guilty officials are placed behind bars,” said Xaba.

He added that they had also reported another incident for investigation, involving the alleged misuse of a legislature credit card, where payments exceeding R2 million were made relating to irregular claims for travel, car hire, flights and foreign travel.

The bank had apparently alerted the legislature to suspicious withdrawals that were being made.

Xaba pointed out that in some instances the credit card was used to fund the travel claims of individuals who were not staff members, while there were no invoices attached for other claims.

“The travel agencies must also be investigated and prosecuted,” he added.

Hawks spokesperson Nomthandazo Mnisi said that the operation emanated from the allegations by Nehawu against the secretary of the legislature, who the union claimed received a non-pensionable cash allowance which he was not entitled to.

“Furthermore, the chief financial officer of the said legislature was paid a resignation allowance whilst still working for the legislature. He was also paid the study leave allowance which he did not qualify for. He allegedly presented Salga (South African Local Government Association) the resignation papers from the legislature although he was promoted and had not resigned. The combined amount between the CFO and secretary is approximately R484 090.05.”

Mnisi indicated that no arrests had been made as yet. “The investigation is ongoing.”

The spokesperson for the Office of the Speaker, Mpho Masina, said that the legislature was offering its full co-operation to the Hawks’ investigation following the raid that was conducted at its administrative offices yesterday morning.

“The Office of the Speaker deems it fit at this point to reserve commenting on this matter until the investigation by the Hawks has been fully concluded, as we do not want to compromise the investigation in any way,” said Masina.

She acknowledged that the Office of the Speaker had only recently been made aware of the misuse of an official credit card.

“We have instructed our finance department to provide us with details pertaining to this. Finance has, however, informed the Office of the Speaker that they do not have a record of a credit card that could reach an amount of R2 million in our system.”