“It is said some municipal officials approached businesses like salesmen offering prepaid electricity with massive sales to those interested.”
Corruption is alive and well at the Drakenstein Municipality with more than R3 million stolen over the past three years.
The Economic Freedom Fighters in the Drakenstein sub-region says the people deserve to know the truth, and they deserve much better.
Millions of Rands are physically being stolen from right under the nose of the DA-led Drakenstein municipality, while these masters brag on podiums how clean and corrupt-free they govern this area. “I find it strange how few people in the higher echelons of this municipality take full responsibility or is even held accountable for the theft of the taxpayers’ money. Even their internal investigation proved incompetence and a lack of action to stop this crookery, says Bernard Joseph, EFF-Chairperson in the Western Cape.
Joseph and an EFF-delegation from this sub-region two weeks ago confronted the Executive Mayor, Conrad Poole, and the Acting Municipal Manager, Jacques Carstens, on complaints received from the residents in this area. During this confrontation the EFF shared these complaints, named the municipal officials that were implicated, and at times strongly condemned the careless attitude displayed by this municipality’s leadership.
The complaints included allegations of:
- The appointment of temporary or casual workers:
Two workers have been working as casuals for the past 13 years as debt collectors. They are both over the age of 60 and they earn about R18 000 per person per month. Each one of these workers is issued with municipal transportation, which is often parked overnight at their personal residences.
In another relating matter, one of the white Chief Clerks has been working at the council since the 1970s. She only has gr.9/Std.7 qualification, yet the clerks with tertiary qualification have to report to her on a daily basis.
- The outsourcing of services while there are fully staffed offices who are paid to do the work:
The municipality has a fully staffed Asset management office. Still, this function is being outsourced to private companies to do their work.
- Lack of safety at the taxi ranks:
People are being robbed on a daily basis on all nine of these premises in Paarl East. There is no sufficient lightning, and for the last 34 years the people are still using the same ablution facilities. Most of the drivers and commuters make use of the open spaces for this purpose.
The municipality currently expects the local taxi unions to develop these services, which the municipality is responsible for.
- The privatisation of the tourism function:
The municipality outsourced its tourism function to a private institution. There is no evidence of the institution being a municipal entity, yet the municipality pays the salaries of this organisation’s Board of Directors.
At the time of privatisation all the staff had to be absorbed into other departments, since they were not allowed employment at said organisation.
- Theft from the municipal offices:
An estimated R400 000 was stolen from the safe of the municipal offices in Wellington earlier. Nobody was arrested or held accountable for the theft of the taxpayers’ money. According to the acting Municipal Manager, Jacques Carstens, the police’s investigation was finalised as one of the suspects was sentenced in an unrelated murder case.
Carstens claims because this person was in prison, he could not speak to the suspect and thus the investigation was stopped. The EFF requested the internal investigation to proceed, and that a lifestyle audit must be done since some of the staff who had access to the safe now own possessions above their means of income.
About a month ago the municipality’s safe in the Paarl main building was also burgled. Despite the CCTV cameras and security personnel in the building, it is said by the municipality that no money was stolen, other than the money out of the nearby cool drink vendor.
- Mismanagement of the indigenous grants:
Currently there are police officials, nurses, teachers and families of municipal officials driving luxury German-made vehicles, who benefit from the indigenous grants.
- Corruption with prepaid electricity:
More than R3 million rand was stolen over the past three years. Although several officials have been suspended, the EFF requested the municipality not to only pick on the lower ranking staff, but also to also focus the senior management and their roles and responsibility as the corruption occurred under their direct watch. The latest arrests included a driver who worked at the Paarl-East rent office.
The names of various senior municipal officials that are implicated were handed to the Mayor and municipal manager by the EFF.
The EFF was informed on how businesses’ with municipal arrears are “assisted” to buy electricity without paying the penalties, in exchange for cash and “favours” study fees for the children of municipal officials. It is said some municipal officials approached businesses like salesmen offering prepaid electricity with massive sales to those interested.
Many residents are billed incorrectly due to the backlog of journals. By law the services for people in arrears should be blocked on a variation of 50/50, following an 80/20 and after that a complete blockage of 100%.
Currently those in arrears get their water and electricity services blocked 100% at once, irrespective the health implications of such actions.
- The incinerator plant:
The DA-led municipality need to realise that such a project is in the interest of the broader public as it involves potential risks on people’s health as well as pollution to the environment. A plant of this magnitude will need to burn 900 tons of waste material to make it viable. The process will produce about 50 tons of toxic waste per day. The EFF demands for reconsideration for a greener alternative such as a recycle plant, that can create much needed jobs and a greener healthier environment for the people of Drakenstein.