KwaZulu-Natal – The Executive Mayor of the Amathole District Municipality in the Eastern Cape Nomasikizi Khonza (53) has been arrested for fraud and corruption by the Hawks and appeared at the East London Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Khonza and Nanziwe Rulashe (36), the chairperson of the Municipal Public Account Committee at the same municipality and also the councillor of Nkonkobe Local Municipality, fraudulently authorised over R2.5 million to themselves under the guise that they were donating the money to support the annual Miss Amathole Heritage, but instead the two, together with Sigcinile Mabixane ( 31) and Mawande Njeza (30) pocketed the public’s funds.

The money, which the suspects had claimed that it would cover the costs for accommodation, gala dinner, marketing, venue hire and other logistics, was paid in two instalments into separate bank accounts, one of which had Nanziwe Rulashe as a signatory.

Investigations revealed that after each payment Rulashe bought herself a car, making it two cars in one month. Khonza was granted R15 000 bail, while Rulashe was released on R10 000. Saba and Njeza were released on R5 000 each.

Still in Eastern Cape a further four suspects appeared at the East London Magistrate’s Court, also for fraud and corruption. The former Chief Executive Officer of the Amathole Economic Development Agency (ASPIRE) Ms Ntombokuqala Nokulunga Mnqetha (47) connived with a legal firm, Dyushu Majebe Attorneys, and settled her private legal bill amounting to R310 000 using ASPIRE’s funds.

The Acting CEO of ASPIRE Mr Thabo Shenxane (41) was also arrested for submitting an altered Counsel Resolution which authorised the payment, while Ms Sandra Weppelman (46), the Chief Financial Officer of ASPIRE is also in the dock for authorising the payment without following procurement procedures. The secretary of Dyushu Majebe Attorneys Ms Zamela Kiviet (39) was also arrested on the basis that the company she represents benefited from the proceeds of crime.

The quartet were released on R5 000 bail each.

The National Head of the Hawks Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza said the time for corrupt public servants who rob needy residents of service delivery has come and gone. He said the claws are out for all who enrich themselves by embarking on fraudulent and corrupt activities. “Municipalities are entrusted with the delivery of services to the people but that mandate is being manipulated by greedy individuals who are looking for short-cuts to riches. What happened to Amathole District Municipality is just the beginning. We have intensified our efforts to rid all municipalities, government departments and all public and private institutions of all corruption and fraudulent activities. Our people deserve better and the Hawks is here to bring hope to them”, said Lieutenant General Ntlemeza who applauded investigators for what he called a job well done.

All eight suspects will be in the dock again on 08 July 2016.