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Tlokwe: It’s game over for ANC’s Maphetle

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Monday the ANC knows that ousted Tlokwe mayor Maphetle Maphetle needs to be dismissed ahead of the municipality's second by-election later this month.

Maphetle, currently an ANC councillor in Tlokwe, stands accused of corruption and fraud.

"The ANC knows they have to formally dismiss him. They have been speaking of conducting their own investigation, which will further substantiate why he had to be removed," said Chris Hattingh, DA leader in the province.

Mapethle was voted out as mayor in two council meetings in December 2012 and July this year. The majority of councillors, including 16 from the ANC, showed a vote of no-confidence in him. They later voted DA councillor Anne Combrink as mayor.

Not leaving anything to chance, the DA has also requested that public protector Thuli Madonsela and the Hawks further investigate the claims against him and subsequently lay criminal charges. Hawks spokesperson Captain Paul Ramaloko said he can neither deny nor confirm that the Hawks were investigating this case.

"If he is still being probed then we cannot release any details until the matter has been referred to a court of law."

The public protector was not available for comment.

Meanwhile, the department of local government and traditional affairs in the North West is expected to reveal the findings of its investigation into the allegations during this week.

Mapethle is facing 16 charges of alleged corruption, which include fraudulently re-directing R300 000 from the municipality's poverty relief fund to sponsor a jazz festival; approving transactions involving more than R3.2-million of state ;funds relating to shares in the Mooiriver Mall; and abusing the disaster management fund. The report also found the Tlokwe council irregularly bought Maphetle a R736 000 customised Mercedes-Benz.

"The feedback is primarily about the conduct of the former mayor, but it will also speak to findings of corruption in Tlokwe as a municipality," said Dineo Lolokwane, spokesperson for the department.

However, the ANC responded saying that Maphetle will not be fired until the "so called" report has been formally tabled and adopted in a council meeting.

"The allegations against Mapethle have been tested, that report is still a DA document until it has been scrutinised and Mapethle is charged accordingly," said chairperson of the ANC in the province, Supra Mahumapelo.

He said the report that will be tabled formally by the department of local government will give them some direction.

"We are happy that the report is done and will provide us with clarity and finality. Mapethle has not been given a platform to respond, constitutionally, he has to be afforded that opportunity."

'A den of power-hungry politicians'
Meanwhile, Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) is working to ensure that the recommendations made in the forensic report that the DA is in possession of is implemented as soon as possible.

"The municipality needs to start functioning properly soon to avoid a waste of state resources and money. Those found to be corrupt must be charged. We are going through the document and we will act accordingly once we are done," said the chairperson of Scopa, Hlomane Chauke.

The province has been dubbed "a den of unruly power-hungry politicians who abuse state resources in their quest for control" following an audit by the auditor general Terence Nombembe. In July 2012, no municipalities in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Northern Cape or North West received clean audit reports.

"Local government sector is the most corrupt and needs a closer eye on issues of governance,” Nombembe had told Parliament.

Tlokwe is due to hold its second by-election on September 18, following the ANC's runaway success during the first by-election in August.

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Khuthala Nandipha
Khuthala Nandipha is a journalist for the Mail & Guardian. This involves writing about various social issues that develop and change on an hourly basis. Her interests are, in a nutshell, how South Africa and the world’s revolution affect the person on the street: “the forgotten voting citizens”, as she calls them. She loves writing, and taking photos as a way to complement her stories. She grew up on the south-east coast of East London in the Eastern Cape. She studied journalism at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. She is not new to Jo’burg, having spent the first eight years of her journalism career working for various newspapers and magazines there.

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