Suspended council boss fights Hawks graft probe

In a desperate attempt to stop the Hawks, lawyers representing suspended Mnquma local municipality manager Sindile Tantsi have claimed the elite crime fighting unit’s investigation of him is illegal.

Tantsi’s lawyer Mvuzo Notyesi has sent letters to the head of the Hawks, Lieutenant-General Berning Ntlemeza, and to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko.

In the letter, seen by the Daily Dispatch, Notyesi demanded that the Hawks stop the investigation, saying an agreement had been entered into between National Treasury and Tantsi that there would be no further investigations for now.

A 2014 letter from the office of the state attorney in Pretoria supports this claim.

“Our instructions are that the Daily Dispatch…reported that the Hawks are conducting some investigations on the alleged irregular award of tenders at Ntabankulu local municipality, where Mr Tantsi used to work as a municipal manager. He left the municipality’s employ in 2012.

“We demand that you stop any investigations against Mr Tantsi, failing which we will approach the high court to declare your actions illegal and have them interdicted since you are violating an existing legally binding agreement,” wrote Notyesi.

The legally binding document Notyesi refers to is a case in which Phumlani Khubukeli, the bodyguard of former OR Tambo mayor, Dingaan Myolwa, damaged vehicles hired by the mayor’s office. The matter was investigated by the National Treasury and the office of the mayor was found grossly negligent by the department’s specialised audit service (SAS) in a report released in 2013.

The cars were damaged while being driven by Khubukeli. It cost more than R1-million to repair them.

Khubukeli has challenged the validity of the SAS report in court and the matter is still on the go.

National Treasury, using the same specialised audit service, was investigating Ntabankulu local municipality at the time Tantsi was manager.

Speaking to the Dispatch, Notyesi said his client could not be prosecuted by the court until the outcome of Khubukeli’s challenge.

“We’ve written to the state organs and put the case to them and they responded by halting the Ntabankulu investigation until the outcome of Khubukeli’s matter. That response was binding to everyone including the Hawks,” said Notyesi.

However, the Hawks responded by saying they would not be stopped. Hawks national spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said: “We will continue with our work without fear or favour. We are doing our work lawfully. Even if people take us to court, the work will continue,” said Mulaudzi.

Tantsi is on special leave after he was arrested by the Hawks last month on allegations of fraud, corruption and money laundering in Mnquma. Sources within the Hawks told the Dispatch earlier this month that more charges could be added relating to Ntabankulu.

Tantsi and other officials at Ntabankulu are accused of embezzling millions by fraudulently awarding tenders to build rural roads. The R9-million fraudulent tender charges in Ntabankulu were investigated in 2013 by Treasury and the report recommended the police be involved.

A “secret and confidential” report seen by the Dispatch revealed that the matter was even sent to a reputable Gauteng-based investigation company, Kingsbourne, for further investigation.

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