Two more senior public health officials whose laptops were confiscated by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality have been suspended for their alleged involvement in what the municipality termed suspicious transactions.
While municipal manager Johann Mettler refused to divulge the names of the two officials, The Herald understands they are director of waste management Joram Mkosana and an environmental management official, Thabo Williams.
They were suspended on Monday last week, hot on the heels of the suspension of another public health official, Nkosinathi Dolo, on the Friday.
All three officials’ laptops were confiscated at their homes more than a week ago by the municipality’s metro police and internal audit division.
Several attempts to reach Mkosana and Williams for comment were unsuccessful.
The suspensions and laptop seizures are believed to be linked to the municipality’s contract with Milongani, which is the subject of a forensic probe.
Mayor Athol Trollip said he had discovered a few months ago that a Milongani consultant was working from the municipality’s public health offices.
He said they suspected irregularities with invoices and pricing structures, as well as the duplication of VAT charges and the inflation of contract values.
Milongani previously denied any wrongdoing and said it was not aware of any investigation.
Mettler said yesterday: “The municipality is investigating a number of suspicious transactions that emanated from within the public health department.
“We cannot exclude the possibility of more persons being involved, whether from within or outside the municipality”.
Asked if the suspensions would not create a vacuum within the department, Mettler said: “I do not expect the normal operations of the department to be disrupted and we will appoint persons to act in the stead of those who have been suspended.
“We have every intention of finalising the investigation in the shortest possible time.”
Deputy mayor and head of the department, Mongameli Bobani, confirmed Mkosana and Williams’s suspensions.
But he claimed his department was being targeted in a political witch-hunt.
“I am in full support of conducting investigations because corruption is corruption and it must be removed, but then it should be done fairly and equally,” he said.
“There have been other suspensions in the municipality, but you don’t hear about those because they are white officials.
“There is corruption in all departments but they seem to be stuck on public health.”