R6,9m spent on metro cops' cases

About R6,9-million has been spent on nine cases pertaining to Ekurhuleni metro police chief Robert McBride and senior officers, Ekurhuleni mayor Duma Nkosi said on Tuesday in reaction to photocopies of three invoices given to the media by Ekurhuleni councillor Izak Berg.

However, Nkosi said only R578 149,61 has been spent on lawyers’ fees and other expenses relating to McBride’s December 2006 car accident.

He said it was “pre-emptive” to comment on the rest of the expenses until he had received the other eight reports from city manager Patrick Flusk.

The mayor did not discount the possibility of fraud and corruption and that some of the funds may need to be recovered. “In terms of financial fraud, mismanagement and neglect ... we cannot confirm if these [expenses] are wasteful or fruitful. We may find that there is a breach, but at this stage it is pre-emptive,” he said.

Referring to the invoices given to the media, he said the invoices had not been stamped and signed and were, in fact, photocopies. It will have to be verified if the information is correct as duplicates are inadmissible evidence. “Anyone can generate any invoice.”

He said even councillor Berg did not know the source of the duplicates as he had received them “thrown over the wall, in his post box and through faxes”. He added: “Stolen information logically creates a bit of a problem.”

City manager Flusk said the information had not been given to him, to the financial department or to the department of community safety. “Before I could verify it, it was already in the public’s hands,” he said.

Grievance letter

McBride’s law firm, Dehal and Associates, has sent a grievance letter to the Ekurhuleni metro police department since the surfacing of the invoices. The firm feels it has been “grossly misrepresented” in the media and is considering suing the municipality. Also, it is owed outstanding legal fees.

On the first issue, Nkosi said Berg was not acting on behalf of the council when he made the photocopied invoices available to the media. “They [the law firm] are barking up the wrong tree,” he said, adding that it should be contacting Berg directly.

He said Flusk will report back to him on the matter of outstanding fees and whether these should be paid, if the services were rendered.

Regarding the funds paid to date on McBride’s legal fees, he said an amount of more than R10 000 can be spent on an employee’s legal fees after consultation with the mayor. “At a council meeting, no one objected to supporting the chief of police.”

Flusk said he had appointed the Durban-based lawyers on McBride’s request. However, there are still limitations on how much the municipality will spend. These limitations include transport costs to fly the lawyers up to Gauteng and accommodation while in the province.

Nkosi said he was being patient but had requested the National Prosecuting Authority to “speed up” its case against McBride. “The chief of police has been given paid time off ... I have requested the case to be speeded up ... Him not being at work is quite important,” he said.

The mayor said he was not happy that officers kept changing the story surrounding McBride’s alleged drunken-driving accident and that it was unfortunate that the Ekurhuleni metro police department was having to consider “rot” in its leadership.

“It has been unfortunate that between the chief of police and senior officers, that we have this conflict. I am very, very unhappy that they are changing their stories,” he said, adding, however, that due process and the law have to take their course.

Nkosi said that despite the allegations against metro police officers, the majority are hard-working, honest and committed. “I know now they are doing the best they can,” he said.—Sapa

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