Opposition party cries foul on housing corruption report
A report clearing a BCM ANC councillor of RDP house allocation corruption almost made it through the system.
However, some councillors on a committee that probes such allegations said they were unaware of the final report.
The ethics committee report, tabled in council by committee chair and council chief whip Mawethu Marata, was meant to be approved by a virtual council meeting on Friday, but it had to be returned to the committee for further discussions.
This was going to close the chapter on RDP house and sewerage project allegations against ANC ward 25 councillor Crosby Kolele. However, he is not yet off the hook as councillors have refused to vote on it.
This was after some committee members and councillors told council speaker Humphrey Maxhegwana they had never laid eyes on the final report before Friday’s meeting.
They said the committee had never approved the report, compiled by senior administrator Ncumisa Sidukwana, although it was signed off by Marata.
The probe against Kolela came after EFF councillor Phindiwe Kaba tabled a motion in council calling for an investigation into Kolela's alleged conduct in September 2017.
Disgruntled residents had accused Kolela of manipulating the RDP housing list and employing those close to him in a sewerage project in the area.
Kaba on Friday told council she had “received threats” and been intimidated by Kolela since she reported the matter to council.
The rejected report found no evidence of any wrongdoing against Kolela, saying there was no concrete evidence presented to its investigation that implicated the councillor.
Marata’s committee said its attempts to get document evidence and witnesses from Kaba were fruitless and that other external investigations against Kolela, by external law enforcement agencies, had also failed to link the councillor to any corruption allegeations.
The probe found the projects had begun before Kolela’s term in office which started in 2016.
The committee was not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to substantiate any of the allegations sponsored against the respondent councillor
“The committee was not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to substantiate any of the allegations sponsored against the respondent councillor,” the report read.
“As a result, the committee could not arrive at the conclusion that councillor Kolela had behaved in an unethical manner.
“The allegations brought against councillor Kolela, and any further investigations into the matter, are fatally flawed and are dismissed by the committee.”
But DA councillor Olwethu Ntame told council that her party members serving in the ethics committee had registered their dissent around processes followed during the probe, and that they were not giving their blessing as the report was prepared and finalised without committee members having a chance to scrutinise it.
Ntame said there was no consensus in the committee over the report contents and that it did not represent the popular view within the committee.
Ntame said it was the first they had seen of the final report.
A verbal exchange then erupted in council between those who supported the report and those who felt it should be returned to the committee members.
This prompted Maxhegwana, who only had been in council for three weeks, to seek “experiential advice” on how such a situation had been dealt with in BCM before.
Mayor Xola Pakati told Maxhegwana there was never a similar situation in council, forcing Maxhegwana to make a ruling which sent the report back to the committee for further discussions and consensus to be reached before it was presented in council again.
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