The Democratic Alliance represented by Councillor Ben Rheeder, has laid charges against Kouga municipal officials for criminal neglect.
This was due to the fact that Rheeder was approached by workers who complained that they had received letters from their pension and provident fund managers informing them that their contributions were in arrears.
Rheeder, a former trustee of one of the funds was also informed by the fund manager of Kouga Municipality’s failure to pay the monthly contributions since February 2012.
Several letters issued by the DA to the municipal manager regarding defaulting on payments had no effect. This left the DA no choice but to lay official charges against the offending officials. Cllr Rheeder, as trustee had to do everything in his power to ensure that Kouga Municipality executed its fiduciary obligations to its employees in terms of the various acts.
Adv. N Henning on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Eastern Cape has rapped Kouga’s Municipal Manager Sydney Fadi, and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Carlien Burger over their fingers for not paying pension fund deductions from employees over to the various pension and provident funds the municipality subscribes to.
Although no prosecution will be implemented now, judgement will hold for a period of two years provided no further complaints are submitted after the judgement was passed on 20 December 2012.
Adv. Henning said that pension fund contributions and tax payments are considered statutory obligations and have preference over the payment of any other creditor.
Furthermore, these contraventions of the Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003 and the Public Finance Management Act 1 of 1999 speak of complete disregard for the law, which should guide these officials in their portfolios. The disrespect for those whose pension contributions are involved is appalling.
The main problem is that Kouga Municipality deducted the contributions from the workers monthly salaries, but those funds were never paid over to a regular basis since February 2012.
When the DA first raised this matter in the press last year and laid charges, the employees went on strike for about 3 days. A meeting for the employees was called by the officials and some ANC Cllrs, where the ANC promised to pay over the contributions and the employees were also threatened to go back to work or else …..
The DA will continue to follow up on this matter to ensure the interests of the employees are protected. If Kouga Municipality is to adhere to the conditions set by the Director of Public Prosecutions, all outstanding payments should have been made by 7 January and again on 7 February 2013.
If any of the employees receive any further letters from their fund managers, they should immediately notify Cllr Ben Rheeder at 082 848 2514 or leave contact details at the DA office in Main Street, Humansdorp (Tel: 042 295 1851).
“The DA Caucus in Kouga will also drive this matter until Kouga Council, the governing party and its officials adhere to the law and I will also take up the matter with the Financial Services Board, the Auditor General and the various fund managers for failing the employees of Kouga Municipality for the lack of action against the municipality” said Elza Van Lingen, the leader of the DA in Kouga.