A chemical solution’s company based in Johannesburg were awarded a contract by the Sol Plaatje Municipality to clean up the sewage spillage and to clean the main sewage line as part of the Mayor’s vision of creating a clean city. Avantu belongs to Lohman Baits and its local representative is Mandala Zulu.
The manager of the Mayor’s office, Gurshion Arends became the interim project manager until the project was handed over to the Department of Water and Sanitation.
“For the pilot phase I was the project manager,” Arends clarified.
The project is worth R2.2 million and the invoicing was split into equal parts. The first payment of R1.1 million was paid for the products that were to be used for the project and the second payment of R1.1 million would be for the implementation.
The second payment was paid into an incorrect bank account, however the alleged incorrect bank account was frozen and the municipality’s supply chain department was aware of the error and where the money was.
Arends was not aware that a case of fraud had been opened against him.
“Unbeknown to me, Mandala Zulu laid a charge of fraud against me at the Phakamile Mabija police station last month. On the 28th of June I was apprehended at the Sol Plaatje tourism information center while waiting for a bus to Cape Town”.
Head of visible policing, Colonel Nkosi asked Gurshion to accompany him to the police station claiming that he was involved in a matter involving the mayor’s office.
“When we arrived at the police station, the Colonel informed me that I have been charged with committing fraud and that there is a witness attesting to it too”.
Arends was allowed to call anyone he thought able to help him out. While in the process of calling, the witness, Rentia Mcgalty walked into the police station.
“I was not aware that she was appointed as the implementing agent for this project by Avantu Chemical Solutions. It was the first I heard about it at the police station,” said Arends regarding Mcgalty being a witness.
Arends was shocked to find out that the witness is an acquaintance of his and has identified him as the one who hacked into Avantu’s bank account and deposited the money into his personal bank account.
Colonel Nkosi’s statement requested that Gurshion be held at the holding cells and has identified him as a flight risk, as he was found on his way to Cape Town. On the basis that he had bought the bus ticket a while ago, assisted in proving that this was indeed a planned trip.
Arends stated that his reasons for traveling to Cape town was to fetch his car and the remainder of his belongings because he had stayed in Cape town for over four years. “In Cape Town is where I reconnected with the Mayor, Patrick Mabilo during his time as a member of parliament, that is where I was offered a job by him as the executive manager of the mayor’s office”.
“I had no reason to flee as I am employed by the municipality. The trip was supposed to be a short trip as I also had to report for duty on the 1st of July”.
The case was struck off the roll due to lack of evidence.
Mcgalty says though the case has been struck off the roll, she believes that he indeed stole the money.
“He is an old crook, this is not my first encounter with him, I thought by now he would have learnt from his mistakes”.
Avantu local representative, Mandla Zulu refused to comment on the case.
Gurshion Arends came out to say that there is no one he is plotting with in the Sol Plaatje Municipality, “Supply chain workers have been trained and advised on the proper procedures that need to be followed. They are doing a great job and have integrity, in fact from the highest position in the municipality to the lowest, our employees have integrity and are all doing a great job in serving the community”.
Arends lawyer’s will be looking into unlawful incarceration and arrest.
The project was meant to have been implemented on the 1st of June but was given an extension of a month.
Avantu chemical solutions will be covering the key areas where sewage runs on the streets.