When the news broke this week that five senior Buffalo City Metro (East London, for those expats who cannot keep up with all the name changes) officials, including mayor Zukiswa Ncitha and her deputy Temba Tinta, were arrested by the Hawks, we knew that it could only be because the Daily Dispatch (DD) was at it again. And indeed it was. Earlier this year the DD investigated how the Metro spent money from its Nelson Mandela Funeral Fund. What they found was a complete scandal.
The Dispatch broke the story a few weeks after Madiba’s funeral, and blew the scandal wide open, revealing how funds were divvied up – shamefully – in Mandela’s name. Not only did politically-connected tenderpreneurs cash in on the former statesman’s memorial services in December, but the ruling party had T-shirts made with public money.
At the centre of the controversy was the ANC’s BCM regional secretary Phumlani Mkolo, who appeared to have engineered the movement of funds into various bank accounts. The Dispatch reported how regulations may have been breached when R5,985,000 was paid to Victory Ticket 750CC to taxi mourners to memorial events around the metro. From there, however, a sum of R1,380,000 was given to Mantella Trading 522CC. Searches reveal that Mantella, which trades as Designer Lighting, has won about R16-million in tenders from BCM, including one for the maintenance of street lights.
Others who were arrested this week are council speaker Luleka Simon-Ndzele, councillor Sindiswa Gomba and Ondela Mahlangu, who is the acting director of executive support services in the mayor’s office.
The DD has done SA proud. Now it is up to the legal system to do the rest. Let’s pray they are as apt in doing their job as the DD.