The Hawks arrested an unnamed KwaZulu-Natal director-general on Monday for defeating the ends of justice and intimidation in the irregular appointment of law firms in a tender worth about R37 million.
The director-general was once accused of plundering about R70 million in Mpumalanga but got off scot-free.
The Hawks arrested the 58-year-old, who works in Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube’s office, and a 47-year-old accomplice, while later in the day, the police’s elite unit arrested four more suspects, including a senior official from the Mhlathuze Water Board and senior officials of the law firms that were irregularly appointed.
Mhlathuze Water is based in Richard’s Bay and supplies bulk water in the uMkhanyakude, King Cetshwayo and Zululand district municipalities.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo said in a statement that the chairperson of the Mhlathuze Water Board reported allegations of irregular appointment of a panel of legal advisers without following supply chain management protocols of the board and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
She added the water board’s chairperson was visited by an individual masquerading as a State Security Agency (SSA) official after the release of a forensic report into the appointment of the panel of legal advisers. The individual claimed that government sent him and threatened the chairperson with arrest and demanded the forensic report.
The bogus intelligence officer insisted the chairperson must stop the investigation against the Mhlathuze Water Board members, Mbambo said.
“It later emerged that the said person was not from the [SSA] and that he was in cahoots with persons of interests implicated in the investigation.”
Mbambo said that the operation was ongoing and more people implicated would be arrested on charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering.
All the arrested individuals cannot be named until they appear in the Durban Magistrates’ Court.
Not the first time
However, City Press understands that the official was implicated in Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report in 2019 for playing a role in the splurge of about R70 million on memorial services in Mpumalanga, following the death of former president Nelson Mandela on December 5 2013.
Mkhwebane found that the official violated prescripts of the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations in the way they appointed an events management company to host memorial services shortly after the political icon’s death.
Mkhwebane also found that then premier David Mabuza’s office did not have measures, including supply chain committees, in place to utilise the R70 million and the expenditure was, therefore, irregular.
The official successfully applied for an order to set aside the Public Protector’s report in the Pretoria High Court in 2021.
Dube-Ncube’s spokesperson, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, said that the premier could not comment at this stage because the matter was “in the hands of law-enforcement authorities”.