Hawks confirm that DA Western Cape councillor remains a suspect in food relief fraud case

Democratic Alliance councillor Nora Grose, of Table View in Cape Town, still faces charges of fraud and money laundering valued at R170 000. The charges form part of a multi-faceted investigation led by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks). 

After a conversation with Hawks spokesperson Zinzi Hani and a statement released by the Hawks, the Mail & Guardian reported on Thursday 20 May that the Cape Town ward councillor’s arrest relates to Covid-19 relief funds. 

But the Hawks have backtracked slightly and corrected themselves on Wednesday, after wrongly implicating Grose in a Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) investigation that is running alongside her case.

“It is regrettable that the earliest media release erroneously implicated her on Ters … We therefore profusely apologise for any confusion caused,” said the Hawks. 

Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase, a spokesperson for the directorate, told the M&G that Grose forms part of two matters that are being jointly investigated. 

The first matter dates back to December 2020 when Reuben Swartz, a former DA member and currently the chairperson of the South African Religious Civic Organisation, was arrested for allegedly claiming money from Ters for his personal purposes. 

The second matter, in which Grose is implicated, links to the initial Hawks investigation to Swartz. 

Swartz allegedly received R170 000 from the City of Cape Town’s R39-million emergency food relief programme. The money was meant for food parcels for Atlantis residents. Instead, the money was funnelled from the nongovernmental organisation to a church in Table View, which both suspects — Swartz and Grose — allegedly tapped into. 

According to the Hawks, the church also has links to some city officials.

MP Emma Powell, DA constituency head in Durbanville-Blaauwberg, last week slammed the information released about Grose being drawn into Ters fraud allegations.

Powell said in a statement at the time that “there seems to be a deliberate attempt from certain quarters to sub-join and conflate what are clearly two separate matters”. She added that Grose’s handing herself over to the police was a “procedural process” and that she did not plead to any charges. 

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 last week. 

She 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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