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Hours after eThekwini hosts anti-fraud and corruption seminar, a municipal graft investigator is arrested for allegedly soliciting a bribe

Hours after eThekwini hosts anti-fraud and corruption seminar, a municipal graft investigator is arrested for allegedly soliciting a bribe

Durban – Councillors in eThekwini Municipality have expressed outrage after a city official, who is employed as a forensic investigator tasked with fighting corruption, was arrested for corruption by the police in a sting operation on Friday.

The councillors said the arrest made a mockery of the city’s fight against corruption and have called for the cases he had worked on to be reviewed.

The arrest came a day after the city hosted a fraud and corruption awareness seminar on November 17 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

The official, who is employed as an investigator in the eThekwini City Integrity and Investigations Unit (CIIU), was arrested on the South Coast, and is expected to appear in court today.

It is alleged the official called a businessman to tell him he was being investigated by the city and demanded an initial bribe of millions of rand. The “bribe” was allegedly negotiated down to R200 000. It is understood that at the time of the official’s arrest, he had collected R20 000 of the R200 000.

Adec councillor Visvin Reddy said: “It is the height of hypocrisy that a city official employed in the anti-corruption unit was arrested for corruption, just days after the city hosted a conference meant to deter corruption.”

DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said they were not surprised by the arrest.

“It has become clear to us that the CIIU has over the recent years been infiltrated by rogue agents and has become severely compromised. We call upon the city and mayor Mxolisi Kaunda in particular to use this opportunity to demonstrate to the people of eThekwini that they are serious about fighting corruption and putting the needs of the community first by immediately dismissing the implicated investigator and set a strong example,” said Mthethwa.

Patrick Pillay of the Democratic Liberal Congress (DLC) said the arrest was shocking. “For as long as we have officials who seek to corrupt our civil system, the city will lose its battle against corruption. The law must be merciless against these corrupt officials.”

ANC councillor Nkosenhle Madlala said: “We have been disappointed to learn that one of our investigators has been arrested. We look forward to learning the details (of this matter) as it could assist the municipality to strengthen internal controls.”

On Thursday evening, the head of the CIIU, Mbuso Ngcobo, spoke on a popular Durban radio station about the success of the seminar and called on people not to pay bribes but to report such demands to the police.

In a statement from the municipality about the corruption awareness seminar, Ngcobo had said that there were successes. “We are making strides in this regard. For example, five employees have been found guilty of corrupt activities. In addition, we are currently investigating cases of jobs for sale, nepotism, and jobs in return for favours. Several arrests have been made.”

It said in the 2020/2021 financial year, the CIIU assisted the municipality to recover about R12 million from fraudulent transactions. During the 2021/22 financial year, 18 companies were blacklisted because of fraud and corruption and in the same period 49 officials resigned who were under investigation for fraud, corruption, and maladministration.

Ngcobo, according to the statement, said as of October 2022, they had 118 cases under consequence management, and 21 criminal cases are registered with the law-enforcement agencies.

Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said they were aware of the arrest.

He said the municipality subscribed to clean governance and welcomed the efforts of law-enforcement agencies to deal with fraud and corruption.

THE MERCURY

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