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DA ’caught out’ after Cape Town councillor appears over alleged church food relief fraud – Herron

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A Cape Town DA councillor appeared in the Atlantis Magistrate’s Court today on fraud and money laundering charges involving the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme.

Good party secretary-general Brett Herron. File picture: Ian Landsberg /African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – A Cape Town DA councillor appeared in the Atlantis Magistrate’s Court today on fraud and money laundering charges involving the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) .

Nora Grose, from Table View, appeared in court after handing herself over to the police due to the Hawks having issued a warrant of arrest. She was freed on R10 000 bail.

She allegedly used TERS funds for personal gain in collusion with Reuben Swartz, the chairperson of the SA Religious Civic Organisation. The Hawks said the R170 000 allegedly involved was meant for food parcels in Atlantis.

’’She was granted R10 000 bail with conditions that she must not interfere with investigation witnesses. Her case was postponed to 25 June, 2021 for further investigation,’’ said National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.

’’Her co-accused, Reuben Swartz, has already been charged. His first appearance was on 14 December, 2020 and was released on R10 000 bail.’’

According to Good party secretary-general Brett Herron, the funds in question were allegedly distributed to a Table View church, ’’where Mayor Dan Plato had launched his campaign to become the DA regional metro chair’’.

Herron told IOL on Thursday: ’’I am frustrated with the DA leadership because I pointed out that corruption and maladministration of food relief was taking place already in April last year. I don’t know how much has been stolen, diverted or abused for political purposes over the last year.

’’But today, a year later, the City of Cape Town and the DA leadership in this province have been caught out for not acting in terms of the law.’’

Concerning the particular case involving Grose, Herron said: ’’I did question the mayor three weeks ago whether there was an investigation taking place involving the Hawks related to Covid-19 food relief funds; what the facts were; how much money was involved; and whether this was the only transaction being investigated where funding has been diverted like this.

’’Instead of responding, they denied there was such an investigation. Of course, today, we see there is an investigation and one of the councillors has already handed herself over because a warrant of arrest was issued for her.

‘’She allegedly wanted the funds to get to this church in Table View, which is not a compliant organisation to ask for funds. So they allegedly orchestrated to transfer the funds, R170 000, to an organisation called Sarco (South African Religious Civic Organisation). Sarco was under investigation by the Hawks for TERS fraud.

’’So while the Hawks are investigating Sarco, in comes the funds from the City of Cape Town and out it goes the next day to this church.’’

Earlier this month, the provincial government said it wanted “all relevant” information on allegations of serious malpractice regarding the City’s humanitarian fund before it launched an investigation, the Weekend Argus reported. This after the Hawks had arrested Swartz, who will appear in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on May 21.

A District Six resident had alerted Herron in April last year that food relief was being politicised by the DA.

’’In April last year, shortly after lockdown, when we realised that hunger and access to food was going to be a crisis in South Africa, I received a message from a District Six resident when food parcels were first being distributed by the DA,’’ Herron said.

’’She said the DA were in her area and she and her neighbours were told they can’t get food relief because they are not DA members.

’’So I raised it with the premier (Alan Winde) and MEC (Anton) Bredell that their was politicisation and corruption happening with access to state-funded relief and it was ignored.

’’We had food fund relief funds that were meant to be distributed to humanitarian NGOs and feeding schemes. Councillors were asked to identify the beneficiary organisations, which is a breach of the supply chain management process.’’

Herron had said earlier in May Bredell was duty-bound to investigate allegations of maladministration, fraud, corruption or serious malpractice in a municipality when there was reason to believe it was occurring.

IOL