Category Archives: Gugu Mbonambi

Mercury: Filthy transit camp poses health risk

Filthy transit camp poses health risk

Gugu Mbonambi

The appalling conditions under which people are living in a transit camp at Isipingo has already claimed the life of one person and more could die as a result of waterborne diseases.

This stark warning was issued by residents, who claimed that they were “duped” into moving into the R10-million transit camp by the eThekwini municipality, which assured them that new RDP houses would be built for them “within six months”.

But three years have passed and they are still waiting for the keys to the homes they were promised.

The stench of raw sewage and paraffin assaults your nose as you walk along the dusty road through the closely knit informal homes, cobbled out of flat asbestos sheets, a Mercury team which visited the transit camp, alongside the M35 highway, found last week.

Children play in and drink the murky sewage water running on either side of the transit camp, home to about 700 families from the Bluff, Umlazi, Bayhead and other informal settlements in the city who were “dumped” on the site by the municipality.

There is no electricity, and residents are exposed to high-voltage electric cables running across the wet ground in the camp, a clear sign of illegal electricity connections.

The deplorable and unhygienic conditions at the camp have so far claimed the life of at least one resident, Cleodene Kesram, 18, and many more people could die as a result of waterborne diseases caused by the squalid conditions they live in, residents say.

Lalitha Kesram, 36, who was moved to the camp from Malukazi, Isipingo, three years ago, was told she was being moved to an RDP house, not a one-roomed structure.

“We were duped into coming here, and I didn’t know I’d be living with my children in these conditions. Cleodene was not a sickly person, but on February 18 her entire body began to swell up. When I took her to hospital, the doctor said she had cirrhosis of the liver. The doctor said my child died because of the toxins in her body caused by the filth in this area,” she said.

Vanitha Rathilal, 42, another resident, said they shared six mobile toilets positioned at the far end of the camp, and people often relieved themselves in buckets. There were only two taps that barely worked for the entire camp.

Some residents built their own “long-drop toilets cobbled out of discarded board and other material”.

Isipingo Ratepayers’ Association chairman Darmanand Nowbuth said the association had been trying to get the municipality to move the people to a suitable place for months, but efforts had been in vain.

“The settlement is located between the Prospecton industrial area, the metro railway and the M35 roadway.

“Residents will be exposed to high levels of pollution, which the South Durban Basin is notorious for. That will impact adversely on the health of the community,” he said in a letter to the municipality.

In response to Nowbuth’s letter, the senior project manager of the housing department for the southern region, L Pato, said owing to the lack of suitable land and the time required to implement formal housing, families needed to be accommodated in emergency homes on a “temporary basis”.

“Occupants of the transit facilities will be accommodated for a period of between 18 and 24 months. An amount of about R10 million was budgeted for the establishment of the facility,” the letter read.

A manager for the transit camp, Warrant Officer Annie Naidoo, of the Isipingo police station, said the camp was not a healthy living environment for any human being.

“These people need to be moved from here and be given the homes they were promised. This area is a flood plain; this is not an environment to raise a child,” she said.

In response to questions sent by The Mercury, the municipality said it would “take time to collate all the information” and it would provide responses only by May 10.

S’bu Mpisane to be investigated

Forensic report calls for probe of couple’s eThekwini contracts
Mar 20, 2011 12:00 AM | By BONGANI MTHETHWA

A forensic report into alleged financial irregularities and tender fraud has called for the eThekwini municipality to investigate contracts awarded to Sibusiso Mpisane and his wife, Shawn.

The socialite couple’s Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport has been awarded more than R200-million in municipal and provincial government tenders since 2007.

Last year, the company was accused by the National Home Builders’ Registration Council and provincial government of building poor-quality homes in Umlazi, Durban.

The tender was awarded by the municipality. The couple claimed there was “an agenda to vilify us as a company and a family at all costs, at every turn”.

The forensic report, compiled by auditors Ngubane & Company, recommended that an investigation be launched into the awarding of tenders to the Mpisanes’ company and 34 other contractors.

The report, which has been closely guarded by the municipality, investigated R3.5-billion worth of contracts awarded by the municipality over 10 years.

It recommended that disciplinary and criminal charges be brought against municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe, his deputy in charge of procurement, Derek Naidoo, housing chief Coughlan Pather and procurement chief Themba Shezi.

Provincial co-operative governance MEC Nomusa Dube this week announced that the auditing firm Manase & Associates had been appointed to investigate allegations of fraud, corruption and maladministration in the municipality. Irregularities in the awarding of tenders are central to the investigation.

Also this week, the head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), Willie Hofmeyr, made a presentation to the municipality’s executive committee, offering the unit’s services to investigate fraud and corruption.

The unit is already investigating housing tender irregularities.

Earlier this month, the SIU launched a probe into a R37-million housing project in Lamontville, Durban.

On Friday, spokesman Marika Miller said that KwaZulu-Natal’s human settlements MEC, Maggie Govender, had asked the unit to investigate the project.

“The SIU has been asked to look into payments from the provincial department to the municipality,” said Miller.

Although the project was started in July 2007, the SIU found that, by September last year, only 470 of 920 units had been completed – this while the project had officially been signed off as completed.

Ethekwini municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng declined to comment.

Opposition parties have welcomed the probes.

Democratic Alliance caucus leader Tex Collins said: “It’s brilliant. It’s been a long time coming. Once and for all, we’ll get to the bottom of what ails our city.

“Those officials and those politicians who are guilty must face the law … we cannot run a successful city unless we root out corruption and maladministration.”

Inkatha Freedom Party caucus leader Mdu Nkosi said: “We’ve been calling for these investigations for a long time. There is too much corruption in housing.”…

Love me tenders…
It’s party time for high-rolling former cop and his wife, who coined it with questionable government contracts

A couple who made millions from building low-cost government houses – with some of the projects now under investigation – are splashing out R1-million to renew their wedding vows.

Durban’s Sibusiso Mpisane and his wife, Shawn, who over the years have been investigated by the disbanded Scorpions and the Special Investigating Unit, this week revealed that money was no object for their five-day bash to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary and 20 years of being together.

Sibusiso will also celebrate his 40th birthday at the party.

The couple plan to light fireworks on Wednesday in Lamontville, a township south of Durban. This will be followed by traditional ceremonies at their R15-million mansion in La Lucia, in the northern suburbs.

The main party will be attended by a host of celebrities and politicians and will be held at the five-star Fairmont Hotel & Resort in Zimbali next Sunday.

The various traditional cere-monies will include “slaughtering of cows and goats”.

On Thursday, Sibusiso, who was a policeman until recently, said he could not “divulge the amount” they were spending. However, conservative calculations and people close to the couple estimated the bill at a minimum of R1-million.

Sibusiso said: “Planning (the event) has taken three months … and different companies are involved in implementing it.”

The entertainment on Sunday will include Grammy award-winning group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Kora award winner Thandiswa and SA Music Award winner Judith Sepuma.

The more than 200 guests will also be entertained by Stimela, the Jazel Brothers and DJs Muntu and Happygal.

Other details of the “Egyptian royalty-theme party” at the Fairmont Hotel are a closely guarded secret.

Even the menu is under wraps. “It’s the element of surprise,” said Sibusiso.

But the couple were prepared to reveal they would be wearing Egyptian-style outfits identical to those worn by pharaohs. “We are a couple who like class,” he said.

Four years ago, shortly after spending R12-million on their three-storey La Lucia mansion, the Mpisanes bought an adjoining property for R3.5-million.

They flattened the house on the property and built a garage for their luxury cars, which include an Aston Martin, a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, a Porsche Turbo, a Maserati Pininfarina and a BMW 750i.

In March last year, the SA Revenue Service attached the couple’s Rolls-Royce Phantom convertible, valued at around R7-million, and two Lamborghinis – one worth R4.5-million and the other R5-million.

Through their businesses, the couple allegedly owed about R50-million in back-taxes, but the matter was later settled and the cars were returned.

SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay said: “The Income Tax Act places a specific obligation on SARS to treat the affairs of all taxpayers confidentially.”

Sibusiso could not be reached for comment on this matter.

Once labelled a “fugitive state witness”, he has also been the subject of a preliminary probe by the now defunct Scorpions after disappearing for a year and failing to testify in a murder case against a notorious taxi boss, Mandla Gcaba, and his brother.

About 13 years ago, the former constable with the eThekwini Metro Police Dog Unit was a key state witness in the case against the wealthy Gcaba brothers, who were allegedly responsible for a shooting outside the High Court in Durban. Three people had died and six had been wounded by the time the guns fell silent.

With no other evidence linking the Gcabas to the shooting, Sibusiso’s disappearance ahead of their trial virtually secured their acquittal.

Another investigation into Sibusiso’s lifestyle was launched three years ago after the Democratic Alliance demanded a probe into how a constable, who earned R15000 a month, could afford to own a Lamborghini, which he often drove to work, and the La Lucia mansion.

“I do a lot of things other than being a policeman,” Sibusiso said at the time.

He recently said: “Some people were shocked that I drove a Lamborghini while I was a policeman. They thought because I’m black, I must have made my bucks illegally.”

Sibusiso resigned from the police after the furore and joined his wife, who owns Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport. The company had by then secured millions of rands’ worth of tenders from the eThekwini municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal government.

Recently, Sibusiso was the chief lobola negotiator for police commissioner General Bheki Cele.

The police chief and President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse, attended the Mpisanes’ New Year’s Eve party in 2009.

This week, Sibusiso said he had a secret gift “which will be unveiled on the day” for his wife, who is the daughter of the late Florence Mkhize, a former eThekwini councillor.

January 20 2010 at 07:05am
The mystery of Mpisane millions

By Wendy Jasson da Costa

Just three weeks after receiving R30-million from the eThekwini municipality, high-flying Durban couple S’bu and Shawn Mpisane have halted the completion of RDP housing projects in Umlazi, apparently because they have no money to continue the work.

The R30m paid in December was part of a series of electronic payments amounting to about R219 million, which the company received from eThekwini last year.

The last payment of R4 785 720 was made on December 14, two weeks before their A-list, bling party on New Year’s Eve.

That’s when the big-spending former metro officer and his politically connected wife dazzled friends at their luxurious La Lucia home.

Top-end whiskies and champagne flowed, while they splurged on special thrones and showed off their new Rolls-Royce. Guests included national police commissioner Bheki Cele.

While Shawn Mpisane, daughter of the late ANC local councillor Dumazile Flora Mkhize, is the one who was granted the Umlazi housing contract, it is her husband, Wiseman Sibusiso (S’bu), who has been the focus of media attention.

While working as a metro police constable, with a salary of less than R15 000 a month, Mpisane raised eyebrows by arriving at work in a Lamborghini and living in a R17 million mansion.

This week, he made headlines of a different kind when The Mercury’s news editor, Philani Makhanya, laid a complaint of intimidation against him. The alleged intimidation came after Mpisane became aware The Mercury was investigating his affairs.

On Monday, workers of Shawn Mpisane’s Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport company, as well as those employed by sub-contractors, in Umlazi, were told to go home because the company allegedly had no money to continue their work.

An estimated 1 300 people, many from Umlazi, and their families have been affected, according to Ward 79 councillor Sthenjwa Nyawose.

Mpisane had told him her company had received no money from the municipality since October.

Despite repeated attempts to interview Shawn Mpisane, she failed to return calls to The Mercury as promised.

As a result of the job and housing uncertainty, Nyawose described the situation in the township as “volatile but calm”.

“We are very angry, the councillors of Umlazi are fuming,” he said. “As we speak, the project is not going on because the contractor has not been paid. The problem is the municipality is not coming up with the money.”

Contradicting this, however, documentary records in The Mercury’s possession indicate that more than R50 million was paid by the municipality to Zikhulise in November and December.

Municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe confirmed a total of “around R300 million” had been paid to Zikhulise over 18 months and said the project had been completed in mid-December.

The project involved building low-cost cost RDP houses on 4 500 sites in Umlazi B10, KwaMgaga and Umlazi Infill.

The Mercury has documentary proof that a total of R219 930 939 was electronically transferred from eThekwini to Zikhulise in 2009. In December alone, four payments totalling about R30 million were made.

Nyawose said thousands of houses were still under construction or to be built in Umlazi, contradicting Sutcliffe’s statement that all work had been completed.

Sutcliffe explained that some funding was usually paid in advance. “Contractors submit claims based on work done; the city’s professional team verify that and if such work has been done, payments are then made,” he said.

Like Nyawose, Sutcliffe confirmed that the development was initially a provincial project which the municipality was asked to take over.

“In August, 2006, eThekwini municipality resolved to take over the project and become the developer and further agreed that the professional team and contractors… be kept for the duration of the project.”

But just months after construction, some of the houses were crumbling, The Mercury established during a field trip.

The houses were not plastered or painted. Some had no toilets, taps, baths or showers.

An eight-member family living in a leaking, three-roomed house said their biggest concern was how they would eat. Only two members of the family were employed, one by Zikhulise and the other by one of its sub-contractors.

“Eish, school has started and we can’t take the children to school because we have no money,” said one woman.

Another angry man said the houses were of a poor quality because workers were told to rush their work.

Mpisane houses demolished

August 12 2010 at 07:37am

By Gugu Mbonambi

Two houses built six years ago by Durban tycoon Shauwn Mpisane’s construction company were demolished yesterday because they were unsafe – and residents of the Durban township of Lamontville have called for several more to be torn down and rebuilt.

The residents expressed their complaints as they watched the two houses built by Mpisane’s Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport company being demolished.

Ward councillor Nolubabalo Mthembu said 298 homes had been inspected, and it was resolved that two houses should be demolished.

She said 30 other houses with serious structural defects, including cracked walls and roofs and broken doors and windows, would be renovated soon.

“We found the two houses were not in a suitable condition for people to live in. The foundations were cracking, the walls had cracks and water would seep through the roof and walls when it rained,” she said.

Lamontville resident Nkosinathi Zulu, 38, said most of the houses, built in 2004, had needed to have cracks patched several times by Zikhulise.

Mthembu said Zikhulise had also been told to build new retaining walls at 14 houses in 2007, because walls were collapsing.

“I paid R3 000 for this house in 2005, when I moved in. But a year later the house started to crack,” said Zulu.

“In 2007, Zikhulise came to fix the house, but now it is collapsing. I have reported this issue of shoddy houses to the presidential hotline, but no action has been taken.”

Sipho Sibiya, a resident who helped demolish the houses yesterday, said Zikhulise’s workmanship was so bad that one of the houses collapsed when five men, using their hands, exerted pressure on it.

“If it was up to me, all these houses would be demolished. I wonder how these houses passed a building inspection,” he said.

Couglan Pather, head of housing in the eThekwini municipality, said the council could take legal action against any contractor who built substandard houses.

“In principle, we can still go after a contractor even if they built houses several years ago… We can recover our costs because houses are not supposed to collapse after six years,” he said.

Earlier this year, The Mercury’s investigations revealed that Zikhulise, which had a municipal contract to build 4 500 RDP homes in Umlazi, had done substandard work in a contract worth R300 million.

In 2008, Beeld newspaper reported that Mpisane had secured a R10,3m deal in 2004 to build houses in Lamontville.

The municipality reportedly coughed up R3.5m in January 2004 to fund the Lamontville project, while the balance of funding came from the Housing Department.

Contacted yesterday, Mpisane denied building houses in Lamontville, saying her company had not been in operation then.

“If you have something to say, send an e-mail,” she said.

The Mercury e-mailed her questions on the matter and, when contacted an hour later, Mpisane said she was not at home and had not read the mail.

“When did you know about this story? I am not obliged to give you a comment. I could respond to you tomorrow or the next day, if I want,” she said.

However, the 2004 Soros Economic Development Fund’s annual report states that Zikhulise began in 2002 by renovating schools.

“But in March 2003, the company branched out into construction, building 117 housing units in KwaZulu-Natal,” it reads.

“Not long after, Zikhulise received another construction contract worth $677 136 to build 307 subsidised low-income housing units.”

Rank Corruption in Housing in Durban – A collection of recent newspaper articles

Hawks set to arrest top eThekwini officials
City manager among officials under spotlight

The Hawks have opened an inquiry into allegations of fraud and corruption made last month against senior officials of the eThekwini municipality.

The Times has established that one of the officials under investigation by the police unit is city manager Mike Sutcliffe.

The Sunday Times yesterday reported that the Hawks planned to make arrests in the municipality within days.

The pending arrests – confirmed by a senior Hawks official in Durban – follow a damaging report into R3.5-billion in contracts dished out over the past 10 years.

The report, by auditors Ngubane & Company, recommends that disciplinary and criminal charges be brought against Sutcliffe, his deputy in charge of procurement, Derek Naidoo, housing chief Coughlan Pather and procurement chief Themba Shezi.

The city was also rocked by the auditor-general’s 2009-2010 report, which cited irregular and non-compliant spending.

Both reports were tabled before the city’s executive committee last month.

Yesterday, opposition parties in the eThekwini council called for tough action against the officials implicated in the tender irregularities.

DA caucus leader Tex Collins said that if any municipal official, regardless of status, were found guilty of inappropriate behaviour, criminal charges must be brought against him.

Inkatha Freedom Party caucus leader Mdu Nkosi said criminal charges should be brought against officials found guilty of flouting tender procedures.

“The ANC must stop treating the eThekwini municipality as a branch of the ANC. They must lead by example and use the resources of the community in a proper way,” he said.

Nkosi said the IFP wanted KwaZulu-Natal local government MEC Nomusa Dube to launch an independent investigation into tender irregularities.

But KZN local government spokesman Lennox Mabaso said the department had ruled out intervening at this stage.

“There will be no over-zealous incursion … the minister has met the council. The MEC’s office will monitor developments in the municipality,” he said.

The Ngubane report, which has outlined financial mismanagement and tender irregularities, has recommended that members of the city’s tender adjudication committee be charged with misconduct and that multi-million-rand contracts awarded for housing in Chatsworth be suspended.

Irregularities uncovered in the Chatsworth projects include, according to the Ngubane report, bid rigging, the awarding of tenders to city employees and city councillors, and bypassing the tender process in favour of certain suppliers, consultants and contractors.

The report said Sutcliffe refused to be interviewed by the forensic auditors during a meeting about the Chatsworth project on May 14 last year “until information regarding the investigation is proved to him”.

The auditor-general’s report uncovered R532-million in irregular expenditure and a host of supply-chain management contraventions for the year to the end of June 2010. Unnamed council sources have reportedly said Sutcliffe is feeling the pressure from “all sides” for the first time in his eight-year tenure. His contract expires in June.

New probe into KZN housing

March 3 2011 at 12:08pm


ALLEGED irregularities in a housing contract awarded by the eThekwini municipality to a company operated by controversial former metro policeman S’bu Mpisane are the focus of a new investigation by the state corruption watchdog, the Special Investigating Unit.

The project – at Lamontville in the south of Durban – has been in the crosshairs of the SIU since September, when investigators visited the site. On this visit, it emerged that while the project had officially been signed off as completed, less than half of the almost 1 000 planned units had actually been built.

In terms of supply chain management regulations, monies can only be paid on completion of projects and once the handiwork has been certified as completed.

The Mercury can confirm that payment for the project – R37 112 768 – was released in three tranches by the provincial government to the eThekwini municipality in November and December 2007.

But when the SIU went to Lamontville for a site inspection in September 2010, they found that, even three years later, only 470 out of the 952 units had been built.

In the meantime, although the first phase of the project was still far from completion, the eThekwini municipality was looking for more funding.

Only a month after the SIU’s site visit, in October last year, the municipality asked the provincial government for additional funding to the tune of R82 million to extend the Lamontville project to 1 531 units at an increased subsidy of R55 706 per unit. As approved in July 2007, as part of the government’s “project-linked subsidy”, each of the original 952 units was subsidised to the tune of R38 984.

Although the R82m increase was approved by the province, the money has not yet been handed over to the municipality. SIU spokeswoman Marika Miller this week confirmed that investigations were ongoing.

The initial investigation came after Human Settlements MEC Maggie Govender requested that the SIU investigate concerns around the Lamontville housing project.

Last year, the developer in the Lamontville project, Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport, was ordered to repair several homes and destroy and rebuild at least two, as the department declared them substandard.

Zikhulise is managed by former metro policeman Mpisane and owned by his wife, Shauwn, the daughter of the late Florence Mkhize, a former prominent eThekwini councillor.

Meanwhile, three officials from the provincial human settlements department – Zodwa Dlamini, Sharone Fleshman and Ntombi Masuku – were arrested by the police earlier this year for alleged involvement in the illegal sale of departmental property, and charged with separate counts of fraud totalling R1.1m.

The eThekwini municipality could not be reached for comment

Chihuahuas bite back
Zohra Mohamed Teke
Thursday, 24 Feb 2011

Now there are calls for the eThekwini city manager’s head to roll and for criminal charges to be brought against him

Mike Sutcliffe once described the ANC as his “favourite South African brand” and dismissed critics as “whining Chihuahuas” after earning their wrath over Durban’s street name changes.

Now there are calls for the eThekwini city manager’s head to roll and for criminal charges to be brought against him.

This follows explosive allegations in a forensic audit report implicating Sutcliffe and his top team in fraud and corruption in eThekwini municipality’s housing tender and procurement process involving billions of rand . His political career hangs by a thread, as swords are drawn. The silence of supporters within his party has been deafening and not gone unnoticed.

But Sutcliffe describes the report by audit firm Ngubane & Co as a “political witch-hunt”, and challenges its authors to prove the allegations against him.

In a letter to the chairman of the council’s audit committee, Sipho Nzuza, Sutcliffe says those implicated were not given an opportunity to respond before the report — commissioned by the committee after the suspension of two officials suspected of fraud — was made public. “Allegations in the report are completely without substance, they are considered defamatory and there is no evidence to suggest any impropriety, fraud, corruption [or] negligence in the conduct of the city manager ,” he says.

The matter prompted city mayor Obed Mlaba — not regarded as a Sutcliffe supporter — to rebuke his officials for speaking out on the matter before investigations were concluded.

Then, reports began to emerge about Mlaba’s own alleged links to council contracts via his daughter’s company , despite rules barring council families from tendering for contracts. Mlaba said he was not aware of those contracts.

While a senior ANC KZN source has called the report “flawed, meaningless and one-sided”, Ngubane & Co is standing by it. It also says its probe was limited by “nonco-operation from officials, including the city manager” and has called for “deep investigation” into the real beneficiaries of tender-rigging.

The report, it seems, is the tip of the iceberg but with local elections around the corner the ANC is trying to limit exposure of corruption within its ranks.

Some observers believe it is unlikely that Sutcliffe — once the ANC’s blue- eyed boy — will be asked to stay on for another term .

Day of reckoning for eThekwini
Report may be bad news for controversial city boss, writes Edward West

ETHEKWINI city manager Michael Sutcliffe, the African National Congress (ANC) municipal leader many Durbanites say they “love to hate”, seems unlikely to be considered for another term after his contract expires this year after eight years in office.

Top city officials and councillors have been accused of fraud and corruption by a forensic audit investigation into the city by Ngubane & Co.

The report makes allegations against Mr Sutcliffe and mayor Obed Mlaba, and eThekwini municipality is claimed to have “irregularly awarded” R3,5bn worth of contracts over the past 10 years.

Mr Sutcliffe has previously done his best to dismiss the Ngubane audit investigation and, among other things, has claimed that it was not conducted properly and that tangible and documentary evidence had not been provided for many claims in the audit.

The tabling of the Ngubane report by the city council today comes hard on the heels of the ordering by the mayor of a full-scale forensic investigation into the city’s financial affairs, which followed the recommendations of the city’s audit and risk committee, based on the Ngubane report, the a uditor- g eneral’s 2009-10 report and the city’s internal audit department’s report. The a uditor-g eneral said in his report, published last week, there had been irregular and non- compliant expenditure of R534m at the municipality last year.

The political fallout from the claims of corruption has been widespread. Relations between the city politicians, headed by Mr Mlaba, and the management of the city are reputed to be strained, something pundits say has been worsened by the death late last year of the ANC’s eThekwini regional chairman John Mchunu, a close ally of Mr Sutcliffe.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal has called for the suspension of Mr Sutcliffe, his deputy and head of housing, and the party has questioned the inactivity of the mayor while the alleged graft took place, noting Mr Mlaba’s daughter had also been a beneficiary of irregular expenditure and tender procedures.

Eleven councilors and two municipal officials are alleged to have been beneficiaries of tenders handed out by the municipality.

“The report alleges that Michael Sutcliffe, Derek Naidoo and Cogie Pather have been failing in their duties to manage their respective responsibilities which have led to R502m in irregular expenditure.

“Their protests and threats of legal action this week have been the cries of desperate men trying to cling on to power,” says DA eThekwini spokesman on economic development, Dean Macpherson.

Inkatha Freedom Party’s (IFP’s) eThekwini councillor Prem Iyir says although eThekwini’s councilors have not yet officially seen the Ngubane report, the IFP supported the independence and credibility of the report.

The IFP also supported Mr Mlaba’s stance on the issue that any officials or councilors discovered to have been corrupt in the report, should be dealt with according to due process.

The ANC in the province has clamped down on corruption, something that has been evidenced in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, where seeds of a no- tolerance culture toward corruption has led to a number of officials in various departments being brought to book.

Mr Mlaba’s third term as mayor comes to an end after the local government elections and although he cannot be reappointed, it is possible that he may be redeployed.

Mr Sutcliffe’s contract period ends in June , although he has indicated he would not mind being reappointed. At the moment, neither seems likely.

City officials’ fate in balance
Investigator to assess damning Durban audit report
Feb 23, 2011 9:38 PM | By NIVASHNI NAIR

The fate of Durban’s city manager, Mike Sutcliffe, and three other senior officials is in the hands of an independent forensic investigator assessing the damning Ngubane & Co audit report.

The full eThekwini council yesterday approved an executive council decision to appoint an independent forensic firm to investigate the report, which implicated Sutcliffe, his deputy in charge of procurement, Derek Naidoo, housing head Coughlan Pather, and procurement head Themba Shezi in irregular housing contracts of R3.5-billion over the past 10 years.

The report, which Sutcliffe and his administration have challenged, recommended bringing criminal or disciplinary charges against the four.

Ngubane & Co found they overstepped their mandate and ignored procedures in awarding contracts for a Chatsworth housing project.

It also recommended charging all members of the bid adjudication committee with misconduct.

Ngubane & Co investigated the financial affairs of the municipality after the auditor-general’s 2009-2010 report cited irregular and non-compliant spending of R534-million at the municipality.

It found that 53 contracts, totalling more than R16-million, were awarded to councillors and companies owned by employees of the city and that contracts worth R42.5-million were given to government employees outside the city.

Durban’s mayor, Obed Mlaba, said yesterday the new probe would “prove or disprove” any findings against Sutcliffe and his administration.

The independent forensic investigation firm is expected to be appointed soon as the deadline for the completion of the probe is two months.

The council’s DA caucus leader, Tex Collins, told The Times that the four had “nothing to worry about if their hands were clean”.

“If any members of the 20000 employees of the city have honestly never done anything wrong, then they have nothing to fear, but if there is a slight whiff that they have, then they better watch out because they will be pinned down,” he said.

The report, which has not yet been made public, could influence the looming local government election.

Sutcliffe and Naidoo were appointed by the ANC.

Mlaba admitted yesterday that the city’s image was tarnished.

“Our municipality has been one of the most envied and now that image is tarnished. We need to rally behind efforts to clean up and maintain the position as one of the best municipalities in Africa,” he told the city council.

When the allegations surfaced, Sutcliffe tried to save his image in the hopes of being reappointed when his contract ends in June.

He called the Ngubane & Co report a “witch-hunt” and pointed out 90 inaccuracies. –

Investigate, suspend and charge, say auditors

February 18 2011 at 12:29pm


THE FIXING of old council houses in Chatsworth and how contractors were appointed to do the work are at the core of an explosive report by Durban auditing firm Ngubane and Co.

The report calls for criminal charges or disciplinary proceedings to be brought against city manager Mike Sutcliffe, Derek Naidoo, the deputy city manager: procurement and infrastructure, housing head Cogi Pather and procurement head Themba Shezi.

It has also been recommended that four service providers used in the Chatsworth project be suspended until a full investigation is completed.

They are Vaughan Charles and Associates, RGZ Project, Uhlanga Trading Enterprise and Doctor Khumalo Construction.

The Ngubane report also recommends that all bid adjudication committee members be charged with misconduct.

In 2009, the municipality’s internal audit unit tasked Ngubane and Co with investigating whether procurement procedures had been followed in the rehabilitation of council homes in Westcliffe, Bayview and Crossmoor.

The council wanted to spruce up its old rental stock before selling it.

The report on the investigation alleges top city officials overstepped their mandates or ignored procedures in awarding contracts for the project, the cost of which was initially estimated at R30.8 million.

It also says witnesses are afraid to speak because they fear for their lives.

Ngubane and Co had a wide-ranging mandate that included:

* Performing a value-for-money audit of goods and services bought.

* Establishing if there had been any irregularities in procurement.

* establishing if the alleged irregularities entailed financial misconduct, non-compliance and or criminal conduct.

In the event of irregularities being found, the company was to establish who had been responsible for these and the prejudice the municipality suffered. It was also required to provide evidence that could be presented at criminal, disciplinary and civil proceedings.

In its report the company said it had had to deal with several limitations.

These included the safety of individuals.

“Employees who formed part of the investigation at all levels of the organisation are fearful to co-operate with the investigation team, for fear of reprisal.”

Witnesses apparently also claimed that Sutcliffe and Naidoo were allegedly responsible for serious violations of the supply chain management regulations, but they were afraid to reveal their identities and would co-operate further only if they were protected.

The report says external individuals were also prepared to co-operate, but they also required protection.

Ngubane claimed that supply chain management staff had repeatedly avoided the investigation team and that Pather had not given his full co-operation to the team.

The Ngubane investigation also found that the directors of Inyanga Trading 377, the preferred supplier of paint for the Chatsworth project, were the wives of two senior managers in the municipal housing department.

Magandran “Magan” Naidoo and Thavandran “Devan” Govender are in charge of the rental housing stock. They are married to the company’s directors, Ronnika Naidoo and Jannika Govender. All four work for the council.

Among the alleged irregularities found by Ngubane and Co were:

* Circumventing the outcome of tender processes in favour of certain companies.

* The awarding of contracts to employees and councillors of the eThekwini municipality.

* The suspected irregular awarding of R3.5 billion in contracts since 2000 in ways that deviated from the city’s supply chain management policies.

* Intentional exclusion of the supply chain management component from the housing unit’s procurement processes and restricting procurement functions to key officials.

* Lack of segregation of duties.

* Fruitless and wasteful expenditure in acquisition processes of the housing unit.

* Overexpenditure on housing projects and poor management of finances and projects.

* Failure to keep a proper record and registry of documents for audit purposes.

* Inciting subordinates to unprocedural and irregular conduct.

* Failure to take remedial action in cases of serious and substantial contravention of statutes, regulations and policies of the municipality and local government.

The Ngubane and Co team says that in interviews with municipal officials and other witnesses, it received information relating to further irregular conduct of senior officials at eThekwini.

In addition to its recommendations on the Chatsworth project, it calls for further deep investigation into the following projects:

* The South Central and Northern regions rehabilitation project.

* The R293 Rehabilitation Project.

* The Lamontville Rehabilitation Project.

Report fingers top Durban officials

February 11 2011 at 08:42am
By Wendy Jasson da Costa

The eThekwini municipality is sitting on a damning forensic report that fingers some of the city’s top officials for alleged financial irregularities.

The report, which follows an investigation by Durban accounting and forensic investigations firm, Ngubane and Co, calls for disciplinary action and investigation into the city’s financial affairs.

The report has not been tabled or given to all executive committee members but was discussed at a closed committee meeting this week. Municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe and city treasurer Krish Kumar were asked to leave that meeting, although the reasons are unknown at this stage.

On Thursday eThekwini mayor Obed Mlaba said he was not prepared to divulge any of the report’s details.

Questioned on who the report fingered and what it said about Sutcliffe, Mlaba said: “Whether the city manager is in trouble or not, I don’t know at this stage.”

Mlaba said no other information would be coming from him as the municipality’s financial issues were under investigation and he would not respond to rumours or allegations by the opposition.

“We are a committee (exco), we act as a collective, even as different parties.”

This comes amid reports of tensions between Mlaba and Sutcliffe, with the mayor allegedly feeling that he had been isolated by senior officials on mayoral decisions.

These tensions, it is alleged, date back to the days of the late ANC regional chairman, John Mchunu, who was apparently the only one briefed and consulted by Sutcliffe on major decisions affecting the city.

Earlier this week, Desmond Msomi, the managing director of Ngubane and Co, confirmed the existence of the report, but said he could not divulge anything about the investigation as the firm had been commissioned by the municipality’s internal audit unit and was bound by confidentiality rules.

DA councillor Tex Collins on Thursday said he did not have a copy of the report, but “information at hand suggests that several highly placed individuals within the administration should in fact be suspended pending the outcome of further forensic investigations”.

Apart from the Ngubane report and the 2009/10 audit report, which has not yet been made public, Mlaba this week called for another full-scale investigation into the city’s money matters.

In his 2009/10 audit report, auditor-general Terence Nombembe highlighted the city’s R532 million in irregular expenditure as well as its lack of internal controls and supply chain management contraventions.

That report also underlined 25 cases of alleged procurement fraud and irregularities, as well as the delivery of municipal housing which was under investigation.

In his State of the Nation address on Thursday night, President Jacob Zuma said the government had directed the Special Investigating Unit to probe alleged maladministration or corruption in various government departments, municipalities and institutions.

The unit’s Willie Hofmeyr on Thursday night confirmed that the agency was investigating housing irregularities in the municipality.

Minority Front councillor Patrick Pillay said: “The writing is on the wall, the days of irregular and wasteful expenditure are over. The flouting of tender regulations and usage of section 36 freely and without due consideration to the city and its ratepayers will soon be over.”

Sutcliffe and Kumar could not be reached for comment on Thursday night. – The Mercury

February 9 2011 at 08:53am
By Gugu Mbonambi

Shock probe into city finances

The eThekwini municipality’s executive committee yesterday ordered an unprecedented probe into the city’s financial affairs by an outside auditor.

The independent audit, unanimously endorsed by all parties on exco, comes a week after Auditor-General Terence Nombembe red-carded the city for R532-million in irregular expenditure and a host of supply chain management contraventions for the municipal year ending June 2010.

The city nevertheless received an unqualified audit opinion, raising eyebrows in opposition quarters.

The DA’s spokesman for economic development, Dean Macpherson, told The Mercury last night that the audit was likely to encompass the entire municipality “from the municipal manager to the janitor”.

Nombembe’s audit report noted that 25 cases of alleged procurement fraud and irregularities were under investigation, including the delivery of municipal housing.

The latter is already the subject of a probe by Willie Hofmeyr’s special investigating unit in line with a national proclamation signed by President Jacob Zuma.

The new audit was announced by mayor Obed Mlaba, after exco met in committee yesterday with various parties, including Herman van Zyl from the auditor-general’s KwaZulu-Natal office, the municipal risk committee, and its external and internal audit committee.

City officials, including municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe and financial officer Krish Kumar, were not present.

Exco resolved that an outside independent auditor be appointed to conduct the investigation.

Given that a local government election is scheduled for May, and Sutcliffe’s term of office ends in June, any investigation would have to be completed by then.

Mlaba indicated that he wanted it finalised within two months.

He said that the city had been the subject of various media reports based on the auditor-general’s findings.

While exco appreciated that the municipality was in a “financially stable position”, it was concerned about the findings.

This related particularly to non-compliance with supply chain management regulations in the housing unit and Section 36 awards – which are supposed to be used in exceptional circumstances as they deviate from normal procurement processes. Other concerns include the revenue management system and municipal staff and councillors doing business with the municipality.

Mlaba said he had been mandated by exco to lead the process of appointing a company or persons to head the probe.

He said the city was committed to clean governance and urged those with information to come forward once the audit firm had been appointed.

“We will have zero-tolerance to anything that is untoward in our city. All political parties represented in exco are one when it comes to this investigation.”

DA caucus leader Tex Collins said that such an investigation transcended politics because it affected all Durbanites.

“This affects people living in the most humble dwelling in rural areas, to people in the biggest mansions in Umhlanga, and as councillors we are bound by the council code of conduct to ensure that the city’s books and processes are correct,” he said.

The Mercury has published articles relating to the awarding of Section 36 contracts, and reported that at least 20 councillors were among those believed to have flouted the law by doing business with the municipality.

A fortnight ago, Van Zyl told exco that any company with a budget the size of eThekwini’s – R24,1-billion in the past financial year – would usually have a dedicated person to ensure it followed internal controls and financial regulations.

Sutcliffe declined to comment last night, including whether he believed the knives were out for him. In a Sunday Tribune interview this year, he expressed interest in retaining the job, incurring the wrath of some comrades who believed he was lobbying for the post through the media and that new blood at the helm of the city was necessary. – The Mercury

ANC chief’s fat-cat deals

March 12 2010 at 07:19am
By Wendy Jasson da Costa

The chairperson of the ANC’s biggest and most influential region in KwaZulu-Natal, John Mchunu, has been awarded tenders worth at least R40-million by the eThekwini municipality.

Mchunu recently made headlines for allegedly vetoing the completion of a R1.5m elephant sculpture project for the new Warwick Avenue interchange, apparently because it was the symbol of the IFP.

Now, The Mercury has learnt that Mchunu benefited financially from tenders awarded to two of his companies, Inyameko Trading 148 cc and Zakhele and Mondli Trading Enterprise cc.

Although he is legally entitled to tender for work in the municipality, opposition parties have slammed it as “highly unethical” since eThekwini is governed by the ANC, and have claimed nothing in the municipality happens without Mchunu’s approval.

The revelation comes while the issue of lifestyle audits and “tenderpreneurship” tears the ANC and its alliance partners apart.

Mchunu yesterday acknowledged involvement in construction work and that he was a tender beneficiary, but said there was no conflict of interest and that he had declared his business affairs in the legislature’s register of members’ interests.

Inyameko Trading 148 cc received work totalling R37.3m from the municipality between 2005 and February, 2010.

The municipality’s website lists the firm as a sub-contractor in the pipeline replacement project.

Inyameko Trading is also a Masakhe company, which is an emerging contractor development programme of the Public Works Department.

Zakhele and Mondli Trading Enterprise, which has pocketed R4.4m to date, received a municipal tender in 2008 to “rehabilitate units that are structurally unsafe homes”.

Municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe said: “I have no idea what business he is part of or what his role may be. If he is involved in business, I would hope he has declared that interest as it would be illegal for an MPL to not declare his interests.”

Both Sutcliffe and Mchunu denied that the ANC exercised influence over the tender awarding process in the municipality.

However, Cosatu spokesperson Zet Luzipho said: “People have gone into tenders to enhance wealth, not service delivery,” and said that while he would not talk about individuals, he strongly believed that the government would solve many problems by eliminating tenders.

Other MPLs were outraged on learning that Mchunu had benefited from municipal contracts.

The ACDP’s Joanne Downs said called the revelations “absolutely shocking”.

“He has a huge influence and you can’t tell me his position does not affect the outcome of tenders.”

She said there was a problem with the way in which the ANC awarded tenders, because it consolidated its power, but not by rightful means.

The DA’s John Steenhuisen said many of the municipality’s officials, including Sutcliffe, reported directly to Mchunu.

“For tenders and contracts in Durban, the buck stops with him.”

Steenhuisen asked why Mchunu appeared to spend “more time in city hall than in the legislature”.

He said the municipality’s tender board previously consisted of councillors, but that was now prohibited by the Municipal Finance Management Act.

Minority Front leader Amichand Rajbansi said he believed the municipality’s tender committee should be changed every three months to ensure impartiality.

Derek Luyt, of the public service accountability monitor, said the law or code of ethics for all senior public servants should be amended to compel them to put their interests into a blind trust.

“No politician, no matter from what political party, should be tendering for government business. For us it’s not a question of whether it’s legal – there is something wrong if there is a conflict of interest,” he said.

Responding to a list of questions from The Mercury, Themba Shezi, head of supply chain management and procurement in the municipality, said politicians were legally barred from participating or influencing the tender process.

Asked about the influence of the ANC in awarding of tenders, he said: “The law applies to everybody, including ANC members.”

Mercury: Fire leaves two dead and 2 000 homeless

The pilot project to electrify shack settlements is a result of years of struggle on this issue by Abahlali baseMjondolo.

Fire leaves two dead and 2 000 homeless

July 05, 2010 Edition 1


TWO people burnt to death and about 500 shacks were gutted in a fire at Durban’s Kennedy Road informal settlement in Clare Estate yesterday.

About 2 000 residents were left homeless by the fourth fire at the settlement this year.

Colonel Jay Naicker said a police officer on patrol saw several shacks on fire at about 3am and called the fire department.

About 500 shacks were destroyed. Two men were burnt to death – one was 70 years old, the other 34 years old,” he said.

Fire department divisional commander Alfred Newman said the fire was probably started by an unattended candle.

“The settlement was well alight when firefighters arrived at 3.07am and several shacks were totally gutted, displacing about 2 000 people. It was a large fire and strong winds made firefighting difficult,” he said.

“The eThekwini municipality disaster management assisted residents by issuing meal packs and blankets. Others residents were already trying to erect their shacks using burnt remains,” he added.

Visvin Reddy, chairman of the council’s infrastructure committee, said the city had started a pilot project to electrify informal settlements about three months ago.

According to a report tabled before the infrastructure committee last month, settlements in Redcliffe and Kenville had been identified as pilot sites for the project.

“Intervention in these two areas is deemed critical to address problems that could potentially result in additional fatalities and constant power outages to paying customers… It is estimated that the cost of implementing these two pilots is in the region of R24 million,” the report said.

Mercury: 400 homeless as fire sweeps through shacks

400 homeless as fire sweeps through shacks
27 April 2010, 07:41
By Gugu Mbonambi and Nompumelelo Magwaza

About 150 shacks were destroyed in a fire at the Kennedy Road informal settlement in Clare Estate in one of five blazes which kept firefighters in Durban on their toes yesterday.

About 400 residents were left homeless by the third fire at the settlement this year.

Nobody was injured in yesterday’s blaze, which started when an unattended paraffin stove exploded at about 8am.

Most people had left for work when the fire started, but rushed to the scene to try to salvage their belongings after hearing of the fire from news reports.

Others were alerted by neighbours.

Zolile Jili, 25, said he was left with the clothes on his back.

Gugu Mzizi, 31, was similarly despondent.

“I have lived here for over 10 years and I never know when my shack will burn down,” she said.

Identity documents, cellphones, school books, and grant and bank cards were among the important items lost by residents.

Ward councillor Yacoob Baig said he had arranged for food and tents to be supplied.

Baig said he was continuously applying pressure on the eThekwini municipality to provide housing for residents.

Elsewhere in the city, firefighters battled veld fires on the Bluff and in Chatsworth, Congella and Mobeni.

Rake Jeeves, of the Bluff’s Community Safety Organisation, said a fire had destroyed the valley between Harlequins and the caravan park.

Fire department divisional commander Ntuthuko Mathe said firefighters had responded to several blazes.

“We are approaching the fire season and we would like to warn people not to carelessly throw glowing cigarette ends into bushes and dry areas.”

* This article was originally published on page 3 of The Mercury on April 27, 2010