Metro’s new anti-graft hotline up and running

Mayor guarantees political will to resolve corruption cases speedily

South Africa’s complex labour laws and delaying tactics by suspended Nelson Mandela Bay staff who are trying to dodge their disciplinary hearings are hampering the city’s efforts to finalise fraud and corruption probes, mayor Athol Trollip said yesterday.

On the campaign trail before the local government elections in August, Trollip vowed that corruption would not be tolerated and that long suspensions on full pay would be a thing of the past.

At a media launch of the city’s anti-fraud and anti-corruption hotline yesterday, Trollip was adamant that he still stood by his promise.

“I have said that I am opposed to having people on suspension for interminable periods,” he said.

“We’ve only been in government for less than three months. Those suspensions [were] in place when we came here, but a number of those people have already been fired.”

Trollip said delays because of sick notes and the absence of pertinent information during disciplinary proceedings were a headache for the city.

“It takes time to process these things, but they are being processed.”

He could not say when exactly they would finalise some of the suspensions but revealed they had fired a supply chain official, Sox Nkanjeni, on Tuesday.

Nkanjeni was among several officials who were suspended last year after allegations of misconduct.

Nkanjeni confirmed that he was fired and said he would challenge the city’s decision.

Trollip said: “I am reluctant to be forthright about this because I am trampling on some legal ground. “If there is political will, timelines will be short. I cannot tell you how many days or months, but I can guarantee there is political will.”

Acting city manager Johann Mettler agreed, saying: “It is very frustrating to be confronted with people handing in sick certificates on the day of the hearing. “We are now insisting that whoever signed the sick note must be subpoenaed to testify.”

Some of the metro’s officials who have been on suspension for more than a year are corporate services executive director Mod Ndoyana, budget and treasury official Nadia Gerwel and housing delivery boss Mvuleni Mapu.

Asked about the status of the Pikoli and Kabuso forensic reports, Trollip said he felt the reports were poorly compiled. However, the contents of both reports were being used for a string of other investigations by the city, he said.

“There are many, many related investigations that are still ongoing which stem from those two reports,” Trollip said.

The city appointed accounting firm KPMG to run its anti-fraud and corruption hotline.

Trollip said this was to augment the current internal forensic audit department in the metro.

“The involvement of the private sector is a good partnership to have. “They have staff and resources to provide the service at arm’s length from the municipality.”

The hotline is already up and running at an undisclosed venue.

The hotline number is 0800-007-086.

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