South Africa News

2 senior employees at OR Tambo District Municipality for alleged fraudulent tender worth R168 million

The Hawks in the Eastern Cape have arrested OR Tambo District Municipality (ORTDM) senior employees in connection with a R168 million water and sanitation fraud tender.

Andile Wiseman Wellem, 58, a director of water and sanitation, and Mawethu Mntengwane, 51, a project manager at OR Tambo District Municipality, were arrested by an East London-based serious corruption investigation of the Hawks on Monday.

The officials were charged with fraud, corruption, contravention of the municipal finance management act, and contravening the combating organized crime act.

Hawks said that during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019, ORTDM embarked on a project to ensure that each household in the surrounding villages had access to clean water to control the spread of the virus.

The water and sanitation section awarded tenders for the construction of water reservoirs in order to achieve the said goal.

“During June 2020, a complaint was lodged with the Hawks in East London for extensive probing for allegations of irregularities regarding certain contracts, irregular payments, payments for services not rendered,” said Hawks spokesperson, Captain Yolisa Mgolodela.

“Some businesses were allegedly given loans upfront and services ended up not being rendered. The investigation was able to trace the flow of funds from ORTDM coffers to those of the service providers’ accounts with work partially or not done at all by submission of fraudulent invoices,” Mgolodela said.

Mgolodela added that the investigation further revealed that the senior municipal managers connived with the service providers in siphoning money from the municipality’s bank account. The municipality was prejudiced cash to the value of more than R168 million.

She said that both Vellem and Mthengwana appeared in the Mthatha Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on the same day of the arrest. They were released on R10,000 bail each.

“The matter was remanded to August 29, 2023, for the duo to join the other accused. More arrests are imminent,” Mgolodela said.

Major General Obed Mboiki, the provincial head, expressed excitement at the breakthrough made by the team hell-bent on uprooting cruel crimes.

“During the pandemic, while people were dying in large numbers others saw an opportunity to conduct corrupt activities for self-enrichment,” Mboiki added.

-IOL

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