NELSON Mandela Bay director of constituency services Dumisani Mbebe could soon face a slew of criminal charges including fraud, collusive tendering and unauthorised spending of municipal funds running into millions of rands.
The Herald understands that Mbebe, the infamous DJ Lova who was once dubiously selected to be the top DJ to perform at a Bay New Year’s Eve event in 2009, has not been at work since finding out earlier this month that he is to be suspended by acting municipal manager Themba Hani.
According to a senior metro official involved in the investigation, Mbebe has to answer to allegations that he authorised overspending in his department of about R9.5-million between 2006 and 2010, at a time when the city was heading for a financial crisis.
He is also accused of committing fraud by manipulating quotes, irregular expenditure and colluding with events companies with tenders amounting to R646590.
Mbebe said yesterday the investigation was linked to a purge … because he shared a different viewpoint to that of some leaders in the municipality.
He is a known supporter of ANC regional head Nceba Faku and he is therefore seen as being opposed to mayor Zanoxolo Wayile’s administration. “I have not been informed about the allegations, but I know it’s nothing else but a purge on me.
“When you respect some leaders in the ANC, others feel uncomfortable,” Mbebe said.
He said he was on sick leave. “I did not take time off because I thought I’m going to be suspended. I’m not in control of my health situation.”
The metro allegedly made four payments amounting to R31500 to a music production company, Dark City Productions, over that period.
Mbebe, who as a senior official controlled the selection and appointment of Dark City as a supplier for the metro, was also found to be the company’s operations manager, the senior metro official said.
According to its Facebook page, Dark City Productions is a record label, events and artist management company which only features Mbebe’s album and media releases.
Other companies allegedly involved in dealings with Mbebe are Arteastic Elements, Event Hire Network, Ngquma Trading and Stage Audio Works.
Mbebe also has to answer to allegations that he instructed the manipulation of a Sea Otter Guest Lodge invoice so the metro would pick up the bill for a late night braai and drinks in January 2008.
According to the official, Mbebe’s department held a strategic session at the seaside Kini Bay establishment at which on the last evening, he and 23 delegates held a braai and bought alcohol at a total cost of R6734.
“He then allegedly instructed that the initial invoice relating to the function be changed to not reflect the alcohol consumed by the delegates,” the official said.
Sea Otter Guest House owner Pierre Kolesky confirmed that the constituency department held a two-day conference at his venue.
“On the final day of the conference, one of the main organisers of the conference asked if we could do a braai on the evening after the conference.
“We said we could and we gave them a quote and it was accepted on the day by them,” Kolesky said.
“We made a braai for them and billed the municipality along with the bill for the conference and it was paid 2½ months later.
“The bill included beverages, such as cooldrinks, wine and alcoholic beverages.
“Who am I to say no to business? I gave a quote, I billed the municipality and I was paid,” Kolesky said.
Mbebe is also accused of using Berco Express, a courier service used by the municipality, for personal reasons relating to his performance as a DJ at functions which were unrelated to the metro.
It is also alleged that Mbebe was found to be in possession of more than one council laptop and cellphone. The official said although there was no policy against that, it was as a result of “weak” internal controls and lack of communication between the information technology and asset management departments.
According to the official, the municipality has been advised by auditors to lay criminal charges of fraud against Mbebe as well as the companies involved for manipulating quotes, splitting invoices and collusive tendering.
It is also recommended that the municipality take disciplinary action against Mbebe for contravening the municipal employees’ code.
Meanwhile, The Herald in 2009 reported that Mbebe’s department was under investigation for allegedly embezzling R3.5-million.
He apparently hired vehicles and bought T-shirts to promote his album and allegedly used the municipality’s money to pay for it.
Mbebe was also listed on the 2009 Summer Season entertainment lineup to perform at the New Year’s Eve Bash at Hobie Beach after the New Year’s countdown and fireworks.
He was removed from the lineup after The Herald exposed the possible conflict of interests with a municipal official being paid to perform at a municipal event.
Mbebe responded to the allegations yesterday, saying the current investigation appeared to be “a continuation of the allegation of fraud involving R3.5-million”.
“My company, Dark City Productions, was linked to the R3.5-million investigation, but up until now no one has come to me with a report. They owe me a report.
“We don’t do any work with the municipality because we do not want to be seen as manipulating the system. If you check the accounts of the company, you will find zeroes,” he said.
Mbebe denied colluding with staff at Sea Otter Guest House to crook the invoice.
“There was a strategic session and we did have a braai and try to gauge ourselves, but I’m not aware of instructing people to change invoices.
“I am a senior official and I am not involved in the administration and booking of venues.
“This is a purge, nothing else. I wish sanity can prevail in our institution. Just because someone has different views as you, they must refrain from telling lies,” he said.
Event Hire Network, whose name comes up several times in dealings with Mbebe, said it did a lot of work with the constituency department.
The company’s director, Zane Mohammed, said: “We’ve done work with that department dating back to 2005.
“We were approached by auditors investigating Dumisani [Mbebe] and our relationship with the municipality, but we never heard any response to it.
“We simply get requests to give quotes and we do the work as requested. We wouldn’t get paid if the event didn’t take place. I know Dumisani only through discussions about the events we do for his department,” Mohammed said.
The owner of Stage Audio Works, Will Deysel, said: “Our company was a rental company about five years ago and we sold off the rental component and moved from PE.
“We used to do jobs for the government and the last time I saw Dumisani was six years ago. We are a very ethical, legitimate company and I would like to know more about these allegations because I’m not involved in anything irregular.”
Hani could not be reached for comment. Attempts to obtain comment from Arteastic Elements and Ngquma Trading were also unsuccessful.