KZN CoGTA investigates Abaqulusi after whistleblower report

By Sihle Mavuso

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) has launched a preliminary investigation into the Inkatha Freedom Party-led 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, including that employees were hired to work as call center agents for the council if they were related to certain council members.

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

In another matter, the whistleblower alleged that the acting municipal manager, Sibonga Dlamini, lives in a house in Vryheid that was allegedly built with municipal funds paid to a local hardware store.

“Mrs Sbonga Dlamini has a house in Vryheid that was built from materials purchased by the local municipality AbaQulusi from Ace Mica hardware. The house was built during 2022/2023 and is now completed,” reads the letter from CoGTA to the council chairman, Nonkululeko Ndlela, as part of the preliminary investigation 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 lives a lavish lifestyle believed to be beyond his means (income he earns from AbaQulusi Municipality). He has four (04) houses 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 more information from CoGTA. She also defended Dlamini, saying that after the allegations were made, they asked her and she could provide answers.

“We have inquired with Ms S. Dlamini about these allegations. In response to these allegations, she 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 director of business services at the municipality in January 2018. Her purchase was secured through a mortgage bond.

“To verify this, we have instructed the council’s lawyers to request details from the deeds office to determine the status of its ownership of the property. In response we received a copy of her title deed, which confirms the above. What is also clear from the title deed is that the mortgage bond remains in force,” Ndlela said Scrolla.Africa and the documents attached.

Regarding the allegations against Khumalo, Ndlela pointed out that he has been a councilor for over twenty years, having served as a speaker and exco member in Abaqulusi for several years before moving to Zululand District Municipality in 2023, where he also currently serves as an exco member. He also remains councilor of Ward 4 in Abaqulusi.

“Like all other councilors and government officials, he signed his declaration form and there was nothing unusual that would justify the municipality in contradicting the contents of his statement.”

In the photo above: the local municipal office of Abaqulusi in the center of Vryheid.

Image source: Sihle Mavuso