Nkabi Andrew Hlubi, the former municipal manager at Mafube local municipality in the Free State, has been arrested for the third time this year.
The Hawks’ serious corruption investigation unit in Bethlehem has been tailing Hlubi for some time for illegal activities he was involved in during his reign as the municipal boss.
He appeared at Cornelia magistrate’s court on Tuesday for corruption, fraud, and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act for a matter dating back to 2015.
Hlubi stands accused of illegally awarding a graveyard fencing tender worth R62-million to an associate, Molise John Letsipa, who failed to complete the project.
Tender to service graveyards
The contractor was expected to provide the service for graveyards in Cornelia, Villiers, Frankfort and Tweeling.
However, he only fenced Cornelia and invoiced R11-million for his work, but was only paid R3-million.
Provincial Hawks’ spokesperson Christopher Singo said Hlubi and Letsipa handed themselves over to police, culminating in a series of investigations.
“It is further alleged that the former municipal manager appointed the company because he had a relationship of mutual benefit with the owner,” said Singo.
Hlubi and Letsipa were both released on R10 000 bail and are expected back in court on February 6 2024.
Hlubi also faces separate charges of corruption and fraud at the Bethlehem Specialised Crimes Court dating back to February 2017.
These relate to R166 000 municipal funds which were not accounted for.
This after Hlubi instructed the chief financial officer not to bank daily cash received at the municipal offices and instead utilise it for the running of the government institution.
The Hawks also found that Hlubi was receiving payments from Tumahole Jeffrey Mokoena, a service provider and director of Pit Dog Trading.
The company was allegedly illegally awarded tenders by the municipality and, according to Singo, Mokoena would deposit funds ranging from R1-million (into Hlubi’s bank account).
Hlubi is out on R10 000 bail on this matter while Mokoena was released on R7 000 bail.
Union expresses joy
The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union branch chairperson Tshepo Tsotetsi said the union is happy that the law has taken its course.
He said Hlubi’s reign was the toughest at the municipality, as non-payment of third parties and staff salaries started to trend. The damage continued until this year, said Tsotetsi.
“There were a lot of unlawfully awarded tenders during this time, like the road maintenance or upgrade project which we never saw done in the four towns under the municipality, but we knew a tender was awarded,” said Tsotetsi.
“With these arrests involving tenders, we understand that there was money during that time but we still received our payments late or not at all, because he was too focused on enriching himself while we suffered.”
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