Bloemfontein - The cash-strapped Matjhabeng local municipality near Welkom is paying the legal costs of two former Free State MECs, who are on trial for alleged abuse of public funds.
This was revealed in a response to a written answer to a question by the DA to Olly Mlamleli, MEC of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Health MEC Benny Malakoane, and Sports, Arts and Culture MEC Mathabo Leeto, are on trial for their alleged involvement in a multi-million rand fraud and racketeering ring, irregular tender processes, and abuse of public funds.
Malakoane served as Matjhabeng’s municipal manager and Leeto, was the mayor at the time of the alleged infringements.
Mlamleli could not disclose the amounts involved in the legal assistance since this matter is still before the court.
Malakoane claimed in a written reply that his legal matters were private and therefore he was footing his own bills.
According to Leeto, her department was not responsible for the payment of any legal fees in this matter.
According to David van Vuuren, DA Chief Whip in the Free State legislature, Matjhabeng is technically bankrupt.
The municipality has never received a clean audit since its inception and has received a disclaimer of opinion and adverse findings consecutively for at least the last five financial years.
In addition, the municipality owes Eskom almost R600m and Sedibeng Water almost R1.1bn in debt.