Municipal boss held for alleged R10m fraud

Mnquma municipal manager Sindile Tantsi is due to appear in court today after his sudden arrest yesterday on allegations of fraud and corruption amounting to millions of rands.

Not even his heavily-armed bodyguards could protect him from a group of Hawks officers when they picked him up on the N2 near Mthatha yesterday.

He was served with both an arrest and search warrant.

National Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the outspoken municipal manager was arrested by members of a special task team formed by the Hawks in Pretoria.

The task team was established to investigate what the Hawks termed as “worsening corruption” in three Eastern Cape municipalities, including Mnquma.

Tantsi will appear in the Butterworth Magistrate’s Court this morning. He spent last night in custody after his lawyer failed to secure his release.

Although details of his alleged crimes will be revealed in court, when the municipal manager applies for bail, the Daily Dispatch has been informed reliably that Tantsi’s arrest relates to a R10-million tender Mnquma issued two years ago and subsequent kickbacks. He is currently the only suspect arrested in the case.

The Dispatch reported two weeks ago about Tantsi’s links to 30-year-old Butterworth businessman Sive Nombembe, whose company Big Event Boy (Pty) Ltd, was paid R10-million for supplying black plastic bags. The company won the tender to supply the municipality with refuse bags two years ago.

It is alleged the prices of the rubbish bags were inflated to the point where a packet of 20 was sold to the municipality at a cost of between R185 and R192 – when they normally only retail for about R20 to R30. Of the R10-million the company received, more than R2-million was paid to three people with codenames as a form of alleged kickbacks.

It is further alleged that some of the money was used to purchase a Mercedes-Benz C350 AMG in Durban and about R35000 of the funds was used to construct a car port at the municipal manager’s Ntabankulu home.

About R495 000 was deposited to an individual coded as “Telkom”, R717 000 to an individual coded “ANC”, R803 000 to an individual coded “Sasco” while R246 000 was deposited to an individual coded “Beb”.

A few other individuals who benefited from the company as seen in the statements included: “CC” who received R50000; “The 1” (R31 933); “Ft” (R100 000); “EL” (R33 600); “Ftr” (R320 000); “Lgb” (R200 000); “Zam” (R100 000); “Mq” (R80 000); and “Fuso” (R302 500).

An amount of R20 000 went to “itunes” while R10 000 was paid to “None”.

Muluadzi yesterday said: “The suspect is in custody. He was arrested in connection with fraud and corruption amounting to millions. He will appear in the Butterworth Magistrate’s Court to face charges against him.”

He said Tantsi was arrested by the task team appointed by the national head of the Hawks, Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza last month.

The team is led by a brigadier with extensive experience and specialised skills, who is also said to have played a pivotal role as part of the Joint Anti-Corruption Task Team led by the National Prosecuting Authority between 2003 and 2006.

The task team comprises investigators from the Hawks, the Asset Forfeiture Unit and NPA prosecutors.

Mulaudzi said OR Tambo district municipality in Mthatha and Engcobo municipality had also been identified as hubs of alleged corrupt activities. — zwangam@dispatch.co.za

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