The acting municipal manager of the Inxuba Yethemba Local Municipality in Cradock and Middleburg, Mkhululi Mbebe, is facing stock theft charges.
Eastern Cape police and Mbebe confirmed this to News24 on Tuesday.
Eastern Cape police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci said: “The case is currently on trial and the next court date is the 24 November 2020 at the Cradock Magistrate’s Court. SAPS cannot provide any further information on the matter.”
Mbebe confirmed that he had been charged with stock theft but would not discuss the merits of the case, saying: “the case is sub judice, so I won’t be able to talk about it.”
The case is one of the reasons angry Cradock and Middleburg residents are calling for Mbebe’s head.
For more than a month, service delivery has been significantly hampered at the municipality due to a long-running protest which began in the first week of October.
The angry community wants Mayor Noncedo Zonke and Mbebe to be fired amid allegations of fraud, corruption, and maladministration at the municipality.
In October, the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation Unit in East London swooped down on the municipality’s offices and seized documents relating to alleged fraud and corruption tender irregularities worth R26 million.
During telephone interviews with News24, Zonke and Mbebe confirmed the Hawks’ raid but maintained their innocence.
DA constituency leader for East Cape Midlands and MPL Retief Odendaal said while the unhappiness from the community stemmed from various allegations of corruption, maladministration, and service delivery failures, the appointment of Mbebe as the acting municipal manager on 9 October further angered them.
“On 9 October 2020, Mr Mbebe, the Director for Corporate Services in the municipality, was appointed as acting municipal manager of the Inxuba Yethemba Municipality (IYM). This has further angered an irate community as Mbebe, who has allegedly been criminally charged for stock theft, now heads up this beleaguered administration,” said Odendaal.
Odendaal added that while the Eastern Cape Cogta MEC, Xolile Nqatha, sent a team to lead an investigation into the allegations made by the community, the residents were concerned that the investigation would be derailed by senior officials who were implicated in alleged maladministration and/or corruption.
“The people of IYM deserve better, and therefore the DA will continue to fight for a just, caring, and competent administration,” Odendaal added.
Mbebe said he was not worried about the case and added that, in terms of the law, a person should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Mbebe and Zonke told News24 that the offences allegedly took place before their time at the municipality and that there was therefore no way they could have been involved.
Hawks Eastern Cape spokesperson Lwando Zenzile could not be reached for comment since Monday.
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