The Rustenburg Local Municipality in the North West is said to have been gripped by fear and intimidation of whistleblowers and officials after the halting of payments amounting to more than R250 million to three contractors pending a forensic probe.
The municipality’s forensic investigation probing the awarding of a number of tenders is said to have sparked fear, with rumours that hitmen from KwaZulu-Natal are in the municipality to silence whistleblowers.
Acting municipal manager Edward Komane has sent a letter to Rise Now Trading, KSP Group, and Umkhonto Professional Services, informing them of the decision to halt payments pending the outcome of investigations.
The letters, which The Citizen has seen, say the municipality is investigating circumstances around the issuing of tenders and that the investigation will also cover contents of paid and unpaid invoices.
Komane makes it clear in the letters that no payments will be processed until the investigation is complete.
Rise Now Trading, KSP Group, and Umkhonto Professional Services are said to be from Kwazulu-Natal and share the same address in Rustenburg.
A press release by the local directorate of public safety noted that the municipality was concerned about threats of violence, intimidation and potential harm to municipal officials and targeted politicians.
“These threats are viewed in a very serious light and the directorate will be in contact with the SA Police Service to investigate the source of these threats,” it said.
A municipal councillor said there was a management report pointing to corruption in the municipality’s water and sanitation department. But the report was kept under wraps.
The councillor said the report, which had suddenly surfaced on social media platforms, showed that a contractor was paid 30% (over R61 million) of the total contract value within three months of its 36-month timeframe.
“The report also observed that the municipality has a general challenge of paying contractors within 30 days but yet, this particular contractor was paid within days of submitting the invoice,” the councillor said.
Rustenburg Local Municipality spokesperson David Magae said Komane, the acting municipal manager, was still engaging lawyers, officials and relevant stakeholders on the matter.
“Once those engagements are over, the municipal manager will address the media on the issues,” said Magae.
“For now, the municipality is not going to comment.”