/ 14 August 2023

eThekwini DA corruption claims: Motion for forensic audit to be tabled

Dean Macpherson
DA KwaZulu-Natal deputy leader Dean Macpherson has said there is no proof of corruption. Photo: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Opposition parties in eThekwini will ask the metro municipality to appoint a forensic audit into claims that bribes were collected by Democratic Alliance (DA) councillors from contractors involved in a multimillion rand water project.

They also want eThekwini to investigate a meeting, held in the Chatsworth constituency office last year, in which DA member of the provincial legislature Mergan Chetty allegedly instructed the councillors to “clean” the money through the party’s coffers.

Last month, Visvin Reddy, the leader of the African Democratic Change, wrote to eThekwini speaker Thabani Nyawose tabling a motion for the council to appoint a forensic investigation into the allegations.

The motion, seconded by councillor Aslam Shaheed of the Truly Alliance, is expected to be debated at a full council meeting on Tuesday.

Earlier this year the Mail & Guardian reported on the allegations against Chetty and the three DA councillors after a recording of their meeting with a former colleague, Ronnie Pillay, was leaked.

The allegations were downplayed by Dean Macpherson, chairperson of the DA in KwaZulu-Natal. He said Pillay — who stood as an ANC candidate against the DA in a recent by-election — had repeatedly made allegations against his colleagues but failed to provide proof.

The notice of motion, brought in terms of section 18 of the council rules of order, notes the media reports on the alleged corruption — and the existence of the recording — which potentially place the council’s “ethical standards” at risk and bring it into disrepute.

It further notes that the council is “deeply concerned” about the corruption allegations and resolves, in the interest of clean governance and justice, that the office of the speaker “urgently” carry out a forensic audit.

“The investigation outcomes must be reported back to the council with recommendations on legal action, including criminal charges, to be taken against the implicated councillors,” it adds.

Reddy told the M&G that it was important that an investigation be launched to establish the truth, because “councillors owe it to the ratepayers and their voters to explain their actions”.

“Should it be established that these councillors solicited bribes from the contractor appointed by the municipality they are in breach of the council code of conduct and should be removed from council,” Reddy said.

ANC eThekwini chief whip Snenhlanhla Sishange said the party was discussing the motion in its Monday caucus meeting, which was still underway at the time of writing.

The ANC and the DA were both expected to back the motion by Reddy.