Pretoria – The mayor of a cash-strapped Limpopo municipality faces fraud charges after allegedly claiming more than R20,000 in travel allowances after using a state-owned vehicle for transportation trips undertaken.
Modimolle-Mookgophong Mayor Marlene van Staden has requested travel allowance in three batches in fiscal year 2019/2020, according to official documents seen by Pretoria News, including her salary advice and payment records travel allowances from the municipality.
The municipality is one of the poorest in the country and has struggled to provide basic services such as water in recent years, which has sparked community protests. The Limpopo government put it under administration in 2018 after it was tainted with allegations of financial mismanagement. According to an official journal of April 24, 2020, municipal officials are not allowed to claim travel expenses when using a municipal vehicle.
It reads: “If an advisor uses a motor vehicle owned by the municipality for official purposes, he will not be reimbursed for the kilometers traveled.”
However, the municipal records of Modimolle-Mookgophong show that Van Staden claimed 515.70 R2 for travel allowances in March, 837.70 R3 in October and 780.08 R13 in December of last year.
Her salary advice reveals that taxpayers reimbursed her for the travel expenses claimed.
Van Staden, who became one of the country’s youngest mayors when she took over from a DA-led coalition of opposition parties after the 2016 local elections, has denied any wrongdoing. The municipality was one of two Limpopo municipalities controlled by a coalition DA, EFF and FF Plus after the latest local government polls.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m not asking for gas. I’m honestly not that stupid. And if you want to see what my various complaints were used for, make an appointment with my secretary. We have a file with proof of every document from 2016 to date, ”Van Staden said in a text message to Pretoria News on Sunday.
She then invited the reporter to a meeting yesterday to view the evidence and discuss the matter. However, Van Staden did not answer his phone when the Pretoria News made a follow-up call to see the evidence. She later said she had been in a meeting. The Pretoria News has reliably learned that fraud charges against Van Staden have been brought by businessman Ranger Senong. He could not be reached for comment.
Limpopo Hawks spokesman Captain Matimba Maluleke confirmed that the elite anti-crime unit investigated fraud charges against Van Staden in 2019. “I sent an investigation to the Commercial Crime Unit for details on the end of the investigation. ” The Pretoria News had not yet received the report at the time of publication. However, Maluleke last year reportedly confirmed the criminal investigation against Van Staden but did not mention it by name.
ANC shadow speaker in the municipality, Klaas Mabunda, said he was aware of the charges against Van Staden. “As far as I know, this matter is under investigation by the Hawks. You only claim travel allowance if you use your own car, ”Mabunda said.
In 2018, the council filed a motion of censure against Van Staden ahead of the outcome of a forensic investigation into the municipality’s money problems. The Limpopo provincial treasury had placed the municipality under administration due to its poor financial situation.
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Limpopo mayor of Modimolle-Mookgophong DA faces fraud charges
SourceLimpopo mayor of Modimolle-Mookgophong DA faces fraud charges