KZN CoGTA probes Abaqulusi after whistleblower report 

By Sihle Mavuso

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) has started a preliminary investigation into the Inkatha Freedom Party-run Abaqulusi local municipality in Vryheid. 

The investigation was sparked by a whistleblower who wrote to the department early this year. The whistleblower made several allegations, among them that employees were hired to work as call centre agents for the municipality if they were related to certain councillors.  

The whistleblower also alleged that some senior positions are occupied by people who were hired without following proper procedures. 

On another matter, the whistleblower alleged that the acting municipal manager, Sibonga Dlamini, is living in a house in Vryheid that was allegedly built using municipal funds paid to a local hardware store.

“Mrs Sbonga Dlamini has a house in Vryheid that was built of material procured by AbaQulusi Local Municipality from Ace Mica hardware. The house was built during 2022/23 and has now been completed,” reads the letter from CoGTA to the speaker of the municipality, Nonkululeko Ndlela, as part of preliminary investigations into the allegations. 

Furthermore, the whistleblower told MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi that the former deputy mayor, Michael Khumalo, is living beyond his means.

“Cllr MB Khumalo is living a lavish lifestyle that is presumed to be beyond his means (income that he earns from AbaQulusi Municipality). He has four (04) houses located in Vryheid, Shoba village, Ntseka village and Zwathi village.

“He also owns four cars, namely: Audi A6, Isuzu bakkie, Toyota Fortuner, and Mercedes Benz ML,” the letter continues. 

Ndlela confirmed that they have received a request for further information from CoGTA. She also defended Dlamini, saying after the allegations were made they asked her and she was able to provide answers.

“We have enquired with Ms S Dlamini as to these allegations. In response to these allegations, she has informed the municipality that her property was purchased as an existing property in 2015 and transferred to her in 2016 long before she was appointed as a director of corporate services at the municipality in January 2018. Her purchase was secured by way of a mortgage bond. 

“In verification of this we instructed the municipality’s attorneys to obtain records from the deeds office to establish the status of her ownership of the property. In response we were provided with a copy of her title deed which confirms the above. What is also evident from the title deed is that the mortgage bond remains in place,” Ndlela told Scrolla.Africa and attached the documents. 

Regarding the allegations against Khumalo, Ndlela pointed out that he has been a councillor for more than 20 years, having served as the speaker and exco member in Abaqulusi for a number of years before moving to the Zululand district municipality in 2023, where he is also currently serving as an exco member. He also remains councillor of Ward 4 at Abaqulusi. 

“Like all other councillors and government officials, he signed his declaration form and there was nothing untoward which would justify the municipality gainsaying the content of his declaration.” 

Pictured above: Abaqulusi local municipality offices in central Vryheid. 

Image source: Sihle Mavuso

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