DA councillor arrested for allegedly defrauding food relief project

A Cape Town ward councillor for Table View has been arrested on charges of fraud and money laundering relating to Covid-19 relief funds totalling R170 000, according to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks). 

Democratic Alliance councillor Nora Grose handed herself over to the Hawks’ serious corruption investigation team in Atlantis before her first court appearance in the Atlantis magistrate’s court on Thursday.  

Grose allegedly used the R170 000 intended for food distribution during the country’s Covid-19 hard lockdown for personal gain. 

Explaining how the alleged crime was committed, Hawks spokesperson Zinzi Hani said that Grose, together with alleged collaborator Reuben Swartz, the chairperson of the NGO known as the South African Religious Civic Organisation, allegedly used the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) funds for personal gain. 

Swartz was arrested in December 2020 on similar charges and was released on R10 000 bail. 

The Ters funds were initially allocated for humanitarian relief food parcels in Atlantis, but the specialised crime investigators said the money was instead funnelled from the NGO to a church in Table View, which both suspects allegedly tapped into.  

The Cape Town mayoral office, which is dealing with the matter, would not answer questions over the phone, and instead directed the Mail & Guardian to a press statement

In that statement, the city said it was working with authorities to recover unspent grant funding transferred from an Atlantis-based NGO to a church”. 

But the city distanced itself from any criminal allegations, arguing the “funds went towards the intended purpose of food relief”.

“All allegations regarding malpractice by a city councillor were investigated by the City of Cape Town’s office of the speaker and no malpractice was found,” said Cape Town mayor Dan Plato

“I have no doubt the authorities will continue to receive the full co-operation of our officials. We remain fully committed to ensuring all financial transactions are carried out to the letter of the law.”

Grose was released on R10 000 bail and is expected back in court on 21 June.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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