Choppies case: No reaction from JB Marks municipality to protect its integrity

Johannes Schutte, Motlalepula Rosho, Mahlakeng Mahlakeng and Itumeleng Mosala listen to the mayor’s presentation. Photo: Selogile Leshage

The chair of chairs at the NW Legislature, Itumeleng Mosala, said there seems to be no reaction to protect the integrity of the municipality in the Choppies case.

Mosala addressed the executive mayor, municipal manager, managers, the chief executive officer and members of the mayoral committee during an oversight meeting by the North West Legislature Portfolio Committee on Local Government at the Dan Tloome chambers last Friday.

‘Choppies took action by dismissing their employees involved in the fraud. What action did the municipality take? What about your reputation? I’m not hearing the seriousness of this. Your name was brought into disrepute and you are not doing anything about it,’ he told the executive mayor, Kgotso Khumalo.

Motlalepula Rosho, the chairperson of the committee added that this is an issue of public interest and it needs to be followed up. ‘This is about the integrity of the municipality,’ she said.

The issue of Choppies came to the attention of the North West Legislature Portfolio Committee on Local Government after reading the story in the Potchefstroom Herald.

The Herald reported how two employees of Choppies were dismissed for fraud that also implicated the municipal official.

The dismissals relate to the J.B. Marks municipal food parcels account for funeral assistance for indigent families.
According to a reliable source, the municipality deposited money into the account every month. The problems arose when a municipal official started collecting the balance in cash payments at the end of each month.

‘This has been going on since June last year. The irregularities were detected in March and reported to head office. The cash collected over the ten-month period allegedly amounted to hundreds of thousands. The two employees were dismissed after due process was followed,’ said the source.

It will be irresponsible to take action against anyone on the basis of allegations in the media, says the mayor
The executive mayor, Kgotso Khumalo, told Mosala and Rosho that the Choppies’ allegations were never brought to them and he does not know the name of the official implicated.

‘I believe in the promotion of administrative justice act (PAJA). As much as allegations can be made against you, a person must be subjected to the proper due process. There must be a hearing, an inquiry, a court case and a balance of probabilities about them. We can make assumptions about who this official is but it would be irresponsible for the mayor to take action against anyone on the basis of allegations made in the media. I have seen the article and I will be disappointed if the perception persists that we hide corrupt individuals, we keep them in high positions, we give them a lot of money and we do not want to take action against them,’ he said.

The acting municipal manager, Cyril Henry told the committee that, a day or two after the Herald published the article, his office launched an investigation into what had actually transpired and will have a report this week.

The case was reported to the Potchefstroom police station and went to court. The NW SAPS spokesperson, Brig. Sabata Mokgwabone says the prosecutor declined to prosecute because there was not enough evidence. He added, however, that even though the case has been withdrawn, it does not mean it is the end. ‘The investigating officer has to investigate further and take it back to court,’ he said.

 

Also read:

Choppies fires two managers over J.B. Marks food parcels account

  AUTHOR
Selogile Leshage
Journalist

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