George mayor faces suspension by DA over forensic report on corruption

Melvin Naik, the mayor of George, faces suspension over the findings of a forensic report.
Melvin Naik, the mayor of George, faces suspension over the findings of a forensic report.
Image: Twitter/Debbie Schafer

The mayor of the southern Cape town of George faces suspension by the DA over alleged corruption and interference in administrative processes.

The party is also laying criminal charges against Melvin Naik after writing to him on Tuesday asking him to provide reasons why he should not be suspended, said the party’s George constituency head, Geordin Hill-Lewis.

He said the decision followed a forensic investigation into allegations of fraud, corruption, maladministration and serious malpractice ordered by Western Cape local government MEC Anton Bredell.

“The report makes two very serious findings relating to the mayor, Mr Melvin Naik, relating to alleged corruption and interference in administrative processes,” Hill-Lewis said.

“These findings are substantiated by a number of admissions by individuals involved as well as compelling circumstantial evidence. There is also evidence that certain relevant documents were withheld from the investigators.”

The DA’s Western Cape executive committee had also decided to charge Naik under the party's constitution and table the forensic report at George municipality’s next council meeting on January 30.

“I will be meeting with mayor Naik and the George DA caucus today to discuss further appropriate actions,” said Hill-Lewis, adding that the alleged offences detailed in the report carried “very serious criminal sanctions”.

He said he would be laying charges against Naik at George police station on Wednesday, but emphasised that the mayor denied all the allegations against him.

Hill-Lewis said: “However, these findings go beyond mere empty allegations or rumour. They are detailed and substantiated, and in some cases the available evidence contradicts the mayor’s denials.

“That is why the DA could not wait for the Hawks, who have been investigating other allegations regarding George for nearly two years, to take action.

“We also cannot await the outcome of any eventual criminal proceedings, although those must of course go ahead. We have to take decisive action now to restore the integrity of the DA administration in George.”

Former DA member Brett Herron, who is now a Good Party member of the provincial legislature in the Western Cape, said the DA had failed to act against three other councillors involved in alleged wrongdoing in George and the southern Cape.

“Handpicking who in the George municipality to take action against exposes the DA leadership for pursuing factional battles and scrambling to protect patronage within the George municipality,” Herron said.