09 April 2019

Statement by GOOD


Further probing of the corrupt investment scheme operated at DA-led George Municipality indicates that the Councillor, whose son benefitted from kickbacks or referral fees, allegedly sought to interfere with the forensic investigation.
According to information provided to GOOD leader Patricia De Lille by a whistle-blower, the implicated Councillor wrote to the company conducting the investigation to complain of incompetence and/or bias. The company responded that it was inappropriate for the Councillor to address it directly, as its point of contact was the Municipal Manager. After the attempted intervention did not succeed, the Speaker of George Municipality instructed the Municipal Manager to write to the company to instruct it to stop investigating the Councillor.
The instruction followed a meeting of the Council from which the implicated Councillor did not recuse himself.
Municipal Manager T Botha duly wrote to FTI Consulting on 7 November 2018 to say: “The Speaker has indicated that he, in terms of Item 13 of the Code of Conduct, is not of the opinion that he is satisfied that Councillor Cronje has transgressed the Code of Conduct. Please therefore cease any further investigation into the conduct of Councillor Cronje.” 
This, after an initial investigation of the R350m investment scheme by Schroter & Associates Attorneys in July 2018, found that documentation “seems to indicate that the son of George Municipal Councillor DL Cronje gained financially from the agreement”, and that, “it further seems that there was an effort to cover up the above by replacing the agreement with a different one which did not contain the name of Mr DL Cronje”.
The law firm specifically referred to Regulation 8 of the Municipal Finance Management Act which states that, “no fee, commission or any other reward may be paid to a councillor or a director or official of a municipality or to a spouse or close family member of such councillor, director or official in respect of any investment made or referred by a municipality or municipal entity”.
Mr DL Cronje is responsible for the financial portfolio of the George Municipality, which transferred about R350m of the municipality’s money to Old Mutual in 2017. He remains at his desk today.
Said Ms De Lille: “The DA-led provincial government has evidently known of these events for nearly a year. The municipality’s Chief Financial Officer, Mr Jordaan (an official, not a DA politician), is going to be the fall guy while they protect their old guard Councillor.
“MEC Anton Bredell’s claim in response to my taking evidence to the Public Protector last week was that the matter had already been reported to the Hawks. In fact, it was the Municipal Manager who exposed the rotten scheme and eventually reported the matter to the Hawks. Mr Bredell’s party has only sought to ensure that any wrongdoing is pinned on the CFO while the Councillor, a senior member of its team, remains protected!
“The DA’s hypocrisy is breath-taking. The party sought to use false allegations without a shred of evidence to fire me, it routinely calls on other parties to fire or suspend accused members and officials without due legal process, but when push comes to shove, in George, it bends over backwards to defend the indefensible and corrupt," Ms De Lille said.
“According to Mr Bredell his department is aware that the municipality has already embarked on disciplinary action ‘against the implicated municipal official’. Yes Mr Bredell. And Cronje?”