Former eThekwini municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe failed to report former mayor Obed Mlaba’s alleged attempt to benefit from a tender, for almost two years, according to the Manase Report into corruption and maladministration in the city.
The report, which was released in full today following a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application, states that following the appointment by Sutcliffe of the Ngubane investigation into some city transactions in 2008, he was aware of a series of alleged illegal actions around city housing projects and the city’s waste management services, but failed to report them to the police.
Sutcliffe has since denied that the municipality had suffered a loss of R1.1 million – or any loss – as a result of his alleged failure to report wrongdoing.
He has also accused Manase of lifting incorrect information from the Ngubane report instead of doing a proper investigation.
The Manase Report details how Sutcliffe had appointed Ngubane and Associates to look into alleged corruption in city housing deals and an alleged attempt by Mlaba to have waste reduction contracts given to a company he (Mlaba) had shares in.
When the allegations were put to Mlaba by Daily News in February last year, he said he may call a press conference to “clarify some of the issues”.
Ngubane gave his report to Sutcliffe in early 2009, but the latter sat on it instead of going to the police, the report says.
“It would appear that the former city manager contravened Section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (PCAA) … in that he failed or neglected in his capacity as municipal manager to report prima facie evidence and information in his possession in the form of a report drafted by Ngubane and Co during 2009,’’ it said.
The reports also says Sutcliffe had failed to report corruption in a project to rehabilitate city flats in the Mariannridge township in the west of the city.
Sutcliffe, it says, had told Manase investigators in June 2011 that he had not laid charges with the police over the Ngubane report’s findings as his legal advisors had told him Ngubane’s case was weak and that the city should finalise its own internal proceedings first. He also felt that he should wait for Ngubane to finish an investigation into a second housing project at Chatsworth before going to the police.
The investigators then told him they believed he should report its findings to police as soon as possible.
At a second meeting that month Sutcliffe told investigators he had reported these matters to the police.
The Manase Report found Sutcliffe had contravened Section 34 of the PCAA by not reporting the findings to the police and was likely to have contravened the Municipal Finance Management Act as well by not reporting the matter to the Auditor-General. He had also failed to recover the money from the people involved, some of whom still worked for the city, it said.
The report recommended that the city move to recover the R1.1 million and take action against the companies involved in the alleged fraud and corruption.
Sutcliffe is currently suing his successor, S’bu Sithole, for millions for defamation following claims last year that the city would sue Sutcliffe and lay criminal charges, neither of which happened.
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