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Legal Challenge

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‘I believe that there is a need for all the facts to be put on the table and that my persecutors should have their say and I should be given my right to reply . . .’- Suspended Sol Plaatje Municipality chief financial officer, Lydia Mahloko

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Suspended Sol Plaatje Municipality chief financial officer (CFO), Lydia Mahloko, and municipal manager, Goolam Akharwaray, have indicated that they will be undertaking “legal procedures” in connection with the Section 106 investigation report into alleged irregularities at the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

Mahloko said yesterday that she intended to file an application for a review of the entire report on the basis that the correct procedures were not followed.

“We will be meeting with our lawyers for the final consultations next week and will approach the court soon after to obtain a date for the matter to be heard.”

The Sol Plaatje City Council is scheduled to discuss the report at a meeting set for the end of November.

Akharwaray meanwhile indicated that he considered the report “illegal” in terms of its merits and the procedure adopted, stating that he would also be undertaking “legal procedures”.

The findings of the Section 106 investigation report, conducted from July to September 2018 into allegations of irregularities at Sol Plaatje Municipality, was presented by the MEC of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), Bentley Vass, at a council meeting last week.

The report ordered that criminal charges be laid against Mahloko, and that Akharwaray face disciplinary steps for failing to act against the CFO.

In what was described as “a major victory for the thousands of protesters” who had brought Kimberley to its knees during violent protests, which left a trail of unprecedented destruction, mayhem and looting, the provincial ANC agreed to suspend Mahloko and Akharwaray on July 16 2018, “in order to allow for unhindered investigations”.

The Section 106 investigation was launched soon after.

The report stated that Coghsta was advised that both Mahloko and Akharwaray should be subjected to lifestyle audits.

It remarked that Mahloko’s alleged abuse of office had contributed to the “negative appreciation of her character” by employees of Sol Plaatje Municipality.

The task team ordered that all capital projects dating back to 2016, in which the CFO was involved, be investigated for non-compliance with supply chain management processes and whether she exerted any undue influence in the awarding of tenders.

The report also recommended that criminal charges be laid against Mahloko after she verbally instructed the accountant creditors to pay LSOGA Projects (Pty) Ltd for the mayoral vehicle that was used by fthe ormer Sol Plaatje executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika – an Audi Q7 with a price tag of R1.1 million.

The accountant creditors had handwritten on the face of the invoice that Mahloko had telephonically requested her on February 26 to “immediately effect payment, without any written instructions”, the report found.

However, Mahloko indicated that she would submit a review application for the entire Section 106 report to be set aside, adding that Akharwaray would also be making a statement in this regard as he was an “interested party”.

Akharwaray also yesterday indicated that he would be undertaking “legal procedures” as he considered the report illegal in terms of its procedures and merits.

Mahloko earlier this week told the DFA that she had “committed no act of misconduct nor had she acted in any corrupt manner in doing her work at the Sol Plaatje Municipality”, adding that she was not opposed to being taken to court, so that she can “clear her name”.

“I am of the firm belief that this whole thing is nothing but a continuation of the persecution that I am subjected to at the Sol Plaatje Municipality for my principled and vociferous determination to see transformation taking place,” Mahloko said.

“I have been persecuted for advocating without fear or favour for the following: women empowerment; small contractor development and the breaking of monopolistic holds on certain big contracts; the empowerment of local businesses; putting the community first; compliance; and last, but not least, my refusal to be a pawn in political factional battles.

“I will not change my principle stances on these matters for anybody or anything.

“I believe that there is a need for all the facts to be put on the table and that my persecutors should have their say and I should be given my right to reply. I want a public hearing on this matter so that all the people of the Sol Plaatje municipal area and the world can hear first-hand and live as the matters are deliberated upon,” she concluded.