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Municipal official allegedly wrote off millions

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The Sol Plaatje Municipality has confirmed that it is investigating allegations where interest, believed to involve millions of rand, was waived on outstanding accounts without the necessary authorisation.

Picture: CHRIS RATCLIFFE/BLOOMBERG.

THE SOL Plaatje Municipality has confirmed that it is investigating allegations where interest, believed to involve millions of rand, was waived on outstanding accounts without the necessary authorisation.

The municipality said yesterday that its internal control systems had detected suspicious transactions in this regard.

“We were able to identify responsible officials (or parties), who have since being served with disciplinary notices,” municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie said yesterday following media enquiries.

He added that disciplinary procedures were being followed in terms of the applicable code of the disciplinary conduct and that a case had been opened with the SAPS as relevant authorities and investigations were under way.

According to information received, an official at the municipality allegedly wrote off the interest on several accounts, without the necessary authorisation. The amount written off amounted to millions of rand, while several of the accounts involved belonged to that of a local businessman.

A top-ranking ANC official, as well as at least one municipal official, were among those whose interest on their municipal accounts were allegedly written off.

Clarifying the process of writing off municipal debt, Matsie stated that the municipality only wrote off debt in two instances.

“Debt is written off where an application for an indigent subsidy has been approved in terms of the requirements of our Indigent Management Policy or when the municipality has explored all mechanisms of collecting outstanding arrears from account holders in accordance with our Credit Control policy.”

He added that when processes followed indicated that the debt would not be recovered or it was not economically sound to pursue such debt, the municipality could write off this irrecoverable debt, but only after the write-off had been approved through a council resolution.

“The last approval and debt written off in this regard was in June 2018 when the municipality wrote off debt relating to outstanding debt mainly dominated by approved indigent debtors and confirmed less affluent deceased accounts to the value of R335 million. No debt has been written off in the current financial year as such irrecoverable debts (about R225 million) are still being processed and assessed for recommendations by council through its relevant council committees.”

Regarding the recent incident, which is currently under investigation, Matsie stated that the municipality also offered discounts and interest waiver on once-off settlements by outstanding arrear debtors.

He declined to comment further, stating that the matter was currently under investigation.