Junior staff caught in theft of R1.7m from municipality

Three employees of a North West municipality have been suspended after close to R2-million disappeared from its account.

A total of R1.7-million went missing from JB Marks municipality’s bank account.

One of the three officials allegedly reported the theft after he discovered that his password was used to transfer the money to a company in Midrand, Johannesburg.

The money was transferred, cashed out and thereafter the company was deregistered, according to municipal spokesman Willy Maphosa.

The officials were suspended last week.

Other council members expressed shock at the lack of proper controls for the municipality bank account, and demanded to know who authorised the transactions by the three junior staff members.

A council member, Hans-jurie Moolman, said his biggest concern was the absence of security measures and cameras.

“When we enter the building there are security guards, we also have fingerprints detectors and cameras but on that day, nothing was captured,” Moolman said.

He said the lack of controls and accountability contributed to the amount of R1.7-million being simply transferred out of the council’s primary bank account.

Moolman said the payment was made from the municipality’s Absa bank account.

He said the officials whose computers were used and reported the theft were strangely suspended.

The JB Marks municipality was formed following the merger of Tlokwe and Ventersdorp municipalities after August 2016 local government elections. The new entity started with much promise amid the province’s dysfunctional municipalities but it too shows signs of regression.

According to auditor general’s report, JB Marks received a disclaimer for the first time this financial year.

The municipality accrued irregular fruitless and wasteful and unauthorised expenditure amounting to close to R1-billion in three years.

A source in the finance department said there were other payments to the same account, but could not be detected as they were in small amounts.

Maphosa confirmed the trio’s suspension from duty.

Asked about security measures, Maphosa said the person who had been hired to monitor the security systems at the municipality had since resigned.

“We will appoint [new security expert] in the next financial year,” he said.

Maphosa said one of the suspended officials blew the whistle on the scam by alerting the chief financial officer of the municipality.

He said the Midrand company was paid for no known job that was carried out for the municipality.

“The matter is [being] handled by the Hawks.”

Source: Sowetan