Johannesburg – Criminal charges should be opened over the R1.2million in bribes allegedly received by a DA councillor in Ekurhuleni, with accusations that the party’s top leadership concealed the apparent corruption.
At a closed-door sitting in Germiston two weeks ago, the Ekurhuleni council resolved to lay criminal charges against DA councillor Shadow Shabangu for allegedly pocketing R1.2m in kickbacks from Blue Crane Eco Mall.
The company developed the Springs Mall, which opened in March 2017.
A forensic investigation found that Shabangu abused his position as a councillor to facilitate the mall’s building in order to secure a “consultancy fee”.
“In 2016, although Shabangu disclosed that he had earned R1.2m through consulting services, he did not disclose that these earnings were from a company that was developing a mall within Ekurhuleni and, indeed, within his jurisdiction,” read the report.
“In fact, Shabangu does not have any requisite qualifications, expertise or experience that would have qualified him to undertake consultancy work in planning and surveying.”
The DA has not taken any disciplinary steps against Shabangu, with insiders claiming that the party was in a concerted effort to hide corruption. Leaked emails from DA federal chairperson James Selfe’s office show that the organisation’s federal executive, which is its highest decision-making body between congress, were informed in November last year about the alleged bribery scandal in Ekurhuleni.
“But nothing has happened to Shadow because the DA is also corrupt and can’t fight corruption,” said a source, who asked to remain anonymous.
Thomas Walters, the first deputy chairperson of the DA Federal Council, told The Star that the party’s Federal Executive had to wait for statutory processes to first conclude before making final conclusions itself.
“In this case there was such a process at council that had to be kept in mind before final decisions were made. From the DA’s side a finding was made that councillor Shabanga’s membership be terminated,” Walters said.
Walters said the termination was suspended pending a number of conditions that he had to fulfil, one of which was that the DA expressly reserved the right to proceed with a termination process depending on the results of the statutory probe. He said that once the outcome of the council process was tabled, the matter would be revisited accordingly.
The Star sent questions to Shabangu but he did not comment.
Blue Crane Eco Mall spokesperson Amoret D’Arrigo said that they were aware of the allegations levelled against Shabangu.
D’Arrigo said the company understood that Shabangu had been cleared of all wrongdoing based on a formal investigation.
“Mr Shabangu was contracted in the capacity of community liaison officer – for which a contract exists defining his role, responsibilities and payment terms – and not as a councillor,” said D’ Arrigo.
She said that as per contract, Shabangu was paid a fee for services rendered for performing community liaison duties.
Sphelele Nxele, spokesperson for Ekurhuleni Speaker Patricia Khumalo, confirmed that charges against Shabangu were imminent for allegedly contravening Section 4 of the Fraud and Combating Corruption Act.
“A meeting between the speaker and the internal audit committee must first sit so that more information is given to the speaker regarding the issue.
"We are awaiting a confirmation date for the meeting, which is subject to the availability of all parties concerned. Thereafter the case will be opened. We hope that all these processes will take place prior to the next council meeting (later this month),” Nxele said.