PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - Bitou chief financial officer Vincent Mkhefa is among three people who were recently arrested by the Hawks' Serious Corruption Investigation Unit over alleged fraud and corruption in Nketoana Municipality in the Free State.
The matter relates to the installation of equipment in parks, where incorrect procurement procedures were allegedly followed, quotations were apparently inflated and kickbacks exchanged hands.
The other two who were arrested were the municipality's former mayor Mandla Mamba and service provider Caroline Nketu. Mkhefa was the CFO of the municipality at the time. The trio were arrested on 19 July.
It is alleged the matter relates to an incident in 2011 which resulted in a loss of more than R360 000 for the municipality.
Bitou municipal manager Lonwabo Ngoqo confirmed that Mkhefa had been arrested. "Although the allegations are serious and relate to the employment of Mkhefa by a local authority, it relates to a criminal case," Ngoqo said.
"Although one should as his current employer monitor the case, it is only if the court finds him guilty of fraud or corruption that it will become serious misconduct that spills over into his employment at Bitou Municipality," Ngoqo said.
Mkhefa is, as it stands, only an accused in a criminal matter, and nothing has been proven, Ngoqo further pointed out. "He is as yet and may remain untainted by the allegations unless and until the court finds him guilty of an offence that will impact on his ability to perform his duties at Bitou Municipality."
Ngoqo added that should Mkhefa be found guilty of having committed corruption and/or fraud, this offence would follow him to Bitou Municipality.
"At this stage there is nothing that Bitou Municipality can or will do in law. The presumption in law is that he is and remain innocent until found guilty."
Mkhefa did not respond before going to print.
The accused have been charged with fraud and money laundering in contravention of the Local Government Municipal Finance Management Act, the Prevention of Organised Crime Act as well as the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.
They are expected to appear in court on 19 August.
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