Former Emthonjaneni Municipality deputy mayor, Gabriel Gumede, is facing a charge of theft after he reportedly walked out of a meeting on Friday morning with a file containing paperwork relating to an ongoing municipal investigation.
Gumede, who is also an ANC ward councillor, handed himself over to the investigating officer in the presence of his lawyer on Monday, Zululand Observer reported.
The file taken reportedly contained witness statements and investigation reports pertaining to the inquiry that led to the suspension of municipal manager, Raymond Mnguni.
Mnguni was placed on suspension earlier this year after a council decision to place him on special leave.
The ANC has since pledged its full support for Gumede. In a statement released on Sunday, the party said Gumede was in legal possession of the report in his capacity as Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Corporate Services.
“Therefore, he has all the legal rights to be in possession of a document containing findings of financial mismanagement, gross corruption and maladministration in this municipality,” said Musa Dladla Regional ANC secretary, Tholi Gwala.
“This investigation was conducted four years ago, and they found nothing out of order,” said Gwala.
Meanwhile, national chairperson of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Blessed Gwala said on Sunday he was concerned for the safety of the witnesses named in the report. The IFP took over the municipality last year.
“It seems that Councillor Gumede took the file in an attempt to protect himself and other officials possibly implicated in the investigation and also to intimidate the very same people who are witnesses, which might also lead to killings,” Gwala said, further alleging IFP councillors in the municipality had received threatening SMS and letters.
– Caxton News Service