The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) on Friday accused Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba of “grandstanding” after he announced the imminent arrest of 106 allegedly corrupt officials at the city’s various licencing centres.
The union’s regional convener, Jack Makalapa, said Mashaba knew that the matter was a labour issue, but chose to do a “public relations exercise and score political points”.
“We are saying the mayor should treat labour fairly. He should allow the normal disciplinary process of the 106 officers to unfold, before even giving the public the impression that he got them all…now they are in a celebratory mood, unnecessarily so. Criminal allegations, like any other allegations, should be just that,” Mokalapa told reporters in Johannesburg.
Mashaba announced the arrests on Tuesday and added that the implicated officials were identified through an anti-graft sweep by the city’s internal corruption busting unit. According to Mashaba, the unit had identified 972 allegedly fraudulent transactions with a total value of R14.7 million, that occurred between January 2008 and February 2016.
Mokalapa said eight people had been arrested on corruption and fraud allegations at the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) and were granted bail by the court.
Mokalapa said with his union being the majority union in the city, most of the 106 offers were members of Samwu. The employer elected to take the matter to the law-enforcement authorities while there are labour relations guidelines, he said.
“We operate in a political environment. The employer announces the arrests and then serves those implicated this morning [Friday] with letters asking them to make representations as to why they should not be suspended. This new administration suddenly has a need to rush to media while all these were being initiated…everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” said Mokalapa.
In order to fight corruption effectively, the city should also scrutinise JMPD top managers Mokalapa added.
“The fight against corruption at JMPD has always been on Samwu’s agenda, however, it is disconcerting to note that no senior staff members have been arrested or suspended when all these shenanigans occurred under their watch … how in the world can such large-scale corruption, dating as far back as 2008, take place undetected?” Mokalapa asked.
The union was ready to defend its members facing arrest, he said.