Amid the gathering momentum of investigations by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) into the Newcastle Municipality, a municipal official entangled in the controversy has stepped forward to present her side of the story.
Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s proclamation in July 2022, authorising the SIU to investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration within the Newcastle Municipality, the SIU’s probe has been ongoing.
Moreover, the investigations, which have captured the attention of Newcastle residents, have recently gained traction.
In a significant development related to the case, the SIU disclosed its findings in December 2022, revealing that the Newcastle Municipality had procured Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at inflated prices. Notably, the investigation exposed that five service providers had charged rates for the supply of PPE that exceeded the regulated pricing set by the National Treasury.
Additionally, on May 31, 2022, the SIU submitted disciplinary referrals to the Newcastle Municipality, specifically targeting officials involved in the procurement process and the awarding of contracts to these service providers.
Now, Nomaswazi Shirley Shabalala, the Procurement Officer at the heart of the controversy, has enlisted the support of her attorneys to voice her position.
Confirming their involvement, Sihlangu Sithebe Attorneys Inc. disclosed that they lodged an urgent application on May 12, 2023, at the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Currently, the court is hearing the application.
“We have filed a review application to challenge the investigation report of the Special Investigation Unit, or certain sections thereof, that unjustly affect our client, disregarding the rule of law and violating her rights to be heard, based on the fundamental principle of audi alteram partem,” explained the law firm.
Detailing their reasons for undertaking the application, the law firm outlined several crucial points.
These include alleged unconstitutional, unlawful, and improper conduct by the SIU during the investigation. The failure to gather evidence relevant to all allegations in the matter under investigation. Allegations of procedural unfairness, failure to consider relevant factors or considering irrelevant ones. This is coupled with accusations of arbitrary and capricious conduct. The attorneys claim that the SIU failed to adhere to constitutional requirements.
Furthermore, Sihlangu Sithebe Attorneys Inc. emphasised that Ms. Shabalala was denied any opportunity to present her case and was not treated impartially, unlike some of her colleagues who had interacted with the SIU.
Citing the SIU’s alleged failure to follow proper protocol, the attorneys expressed confidence in the merits of their application.
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