Home News Union opens charges after alleged vehicle tampering

Union opens charges after alleged vehicle tampering

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Nehawu whistle-blowers believe their lives are in danger for exposing corruption at the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

Nehawu branch chairperson Victor Modise discovered that the brakes of a work-issued vehicle were allegedly tampered with. Picture: Supplied

NATIONAL Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) whistle-blowers believe their lives are in danger for exposing corruption at the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC).

A criminal case was opened on April 10 after a work vehicle in which the Nehawu branch chairperson at DSAC, Victor Modise, was travelling in, was allegedly tampered with.

Nehawu branch secretary Moses Vorster stated that Modise was travelling for a library services outreach programme at the time of the incident.

“The vehicle was in a good condition when he (Modise) left Kimberley. After leaving a guest house in De Aar with two colleagues, he discovered that the brakes were not working. Thankfully, they were not involved in an accident,” said Vorster.

“We are being targeted because we exposed corruption at the department. It appears as if the vehicle was deliberately tampered with, in order to cause harm and injury to one of our members.”

Vorster pointed out that the DSAC officials charged for their alleged involvement in the R1.6 million tender that was awarded to Traffic Events Management in 2016 to host the “bogus” Umsobomvu youth festival in Colesberg, continue to hold their positions and were still at work.

“There is a possibility that the accused may intimidate witnesses. The officials are still at their posts to approve tenders and are in charge of the finances of the department.”

The former acting head of DSAC, Ruth Palm, 61, the chief financial officer, Andrian Coleridge, 50, and the chief director of corporate services, Bonakele Jacobs, 55, are standing trial after being charged with contravening the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), fraud and money laundering.

Northern Cape SAPS spokesperson Colonel Cherelle Ehlers said the police in Carnarvon were investigating a case of malicious damage to property.

“It is believed that the complainant was en route from Kimberley to De Aar. He realised that the brakes of the vehicle were faulty when he was travelling near Carnarvon. The investigation continues,” Ehlers said.

DSAC spokesperson Conrad Fortune said the incident was reported to the fleet management service of government vehicles in Kimberley.

“Mr Modise, who was the driver of the vehicle, was requested to report the matter to the police. The matter is still under investigation,” said Fortune.

He indicated that they were not in a position to respond to whether the brakes were tampered with or not.

“The head of the security and transport unit is in the process of compiling a report. All measures are taken to ensure the safety of all employees utilising government vehicles.”

Fortune added that following thorough consultation with other organs of state, legal advice was received that indicated there was no reason to suspend the officials charged in connection with the Umsobomvu youth festival.

“It was stated during the bail hearing that all information has already been gathered. This means that the executive managers will not be able to tamper with any evidence. Nor are they in a position to intimidate or victimise any witnesses in the case.”

Fortune stated that no complaints were received regarding allegations of victimisation involving senior management.

“The department has a whistle-blower policy in place that is aligned with the Protected Disclosure Act (No 26 of 2000). It is the department’s responsibility to adhere to this policy and ensure the safety and protection of all whistle-blowers.

“The policy is in place to curb any prejudicial situations and to ensure the safety and comfort of any official who raises any concern of interest, corruption or anything that might place the department at risk.”

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