Pretoria - The 22 Mogalakwena Local Municipality officials, among them former mayor Andrina Matsemela, 46, appeared in the Polokwane Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Limpopo this week on a variety of charges, including corruption.
The group also had service providers and face 104 charges of corruption, three for money laundering and three for conspiracy to commit corruption which relates to tender irregularities in the embattled municipality.
Among the suspects who are in the dock are Matsemela’s younger sister, Nkadi Mabusela, 35, and former municipal director of technical support Jabu Mashamaite.
The matter was postponed to January 17 to give the State a chance to furnish the legal representatives with copies of the dockets, and for the appearance of outstanding suspects.
Mashamaite’s brother, who is a provincial legislature member, failed to appear, according to National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Ndzangi.
A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Matsemela and her co-accused were arrested in September on suspicion of tender fraud and corruption as part of an investigation.
The municipality, which has been under administration for the past decade, has been marred by financial irregularities, corruption, tender irregularities and political instability that led to infighting among the ANC councillors. The suspects allegedly demanded gratification from service providers
The municipality then paid money amounting to R15 million to service providers for services not rendered between 2017 and 2020.
The accused were initially arrested in September, but their case had been struck off the roll with their lawyers arguing that they were arrested without a warrant when the Hawks pounced at the municipal offices.
The Hawks then served the group with summons to appear in court.
Among goods seized during the arrests was a BMW 1 series belonging to the girlfriend of one of the suspects, which was meant as a gift. In October last year, the Hawks seized R1.4m as part of the same investigation.
The municipality’s troubles started after it was summoned before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts in 2019 following poor audit reports by the auditor-general.
More woes followed in the embattled municipality, with the murders of municipal public accounts committee chairperson Vaaltyn Kekana and ANC Youth League leader Ralph Kanyane. The two were vocal about the municipality’s poor service delivery and corruption.
They were both shot by gunmen in Mokopane while sitting in a car. The killers were never found.