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With corruption running ramped throughout Newcastle, KZN for the past many years, ruining countless people’s lives, business development and livelihoods, the Newcastle Municipality is now investigating various senior officials.
This comes after the government entity was green-lighted to conduct a forensic investigation into specific municipal employees.
The investigation stems from numerous allegations of fraud, maladministration, and corruption brought forward through a letter by a courageous whistle-blower. The whistle-blower allegedly works for the municipality and has made damning allegations against senior officials.
With the letter coming in at the end of January 2022, Acting Municipal Manager Zamani Mcineka explains, “Upon receiving the allegations, I submitted the information to the executive committee on February 22, and to the council on February 25. The council resolved that a comprehensive forensic investigation be undertaken by the municipality.”
Initially, Mcineka said the municipality’s effort to deal with the matter efficiently was hampered by the Constitutional Court judgment, Case CCT 279/20, and a National Treasury directive to not proceed with procurement processes until further notice.”
However, while this did slow down the process of investigating the matter, Mcineka highlights that the municipality has finally been given the go-ahead to now proceed with the investigation. He says the Newcastle Municipality can now source a service provider to conduct the investigations.
Reflecting on the pending investigations, which will see senior officials scrutinised, the Acting MM says he believes that everyone has a set of morals and values that they were brought up with and religious and cultural values that teach people valuable life lessons.
With this in mind, he says, “One of the lessons you learn from scriptures and your parents is that thou shall not steal. As a public servant, you have accepted the wages that you will be receiving for your work. You cannot live off the public for your own benefit.”
While Mcineka states that the municipality should have taken steps much earlier to address allegations of maladministration, corruption and fraud, he says the current administration has assured that they are now determined to rectify the errors of the past and clamp down on anyone who takes advantage of their position within the Newcastle Municipality.
“If you embrace a culture of selfishness with the government sector, you allow maladministration, corruption and fraud to set in. While we can’t divulge information at this point, we can assure we cannot allow corruption to be embraced. We need to create a new culture, one of honesty and integrity.”
This, the Acting MM further explains, is due to the fact that corruption impacts the municipality financially and drastically hampers service delivery.
“Even R100 can benefit service delivery by allowing the municipality to acquire the necessary couplings at a water leak. But if corruption sets in, we will not be able to purchase those couplings and this affects water wastage and service delivery,” he emphasises.
While the upcoming forensic investigation intends to clean up all corrupt officials, the municipality will also be looking at threats to the government entity’s leadership.
This is due to the recent whistle-blower’s letter implicating a high-ranking, well known municipal official. According to the whistle-blower, the said official targeted certain other senior officials.
While Mcineka could not discuss the matter implicating the official or give the person’s name, he assures that the allegations were taken seriously and would form part of the upcoming investigations.
Additionally, he emphasised that the police would also be investigating security threats directed at local councillors and officials.
With an in-depth forensic investigation on the horizon, alongside the police investigating threats made on senior officials’ lives, is the Newcastle Municipality finally on the right path to address issues within the government entity? We sure do hope so.
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