GRAAFF-REINET NEWS - At least two different criminal cases have been opened against the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality last week.
The first case relates to the concern around the roofless reservoir raised by ratepayers and reported on by Graaff-Reinet Advertiser in February 2021.
On Wednesday 9 June, Andy Wiggell, a concerned resident and ratepayer of Graaff-Reinet, attempted to open a case of 'malicious destruction of public property' against the DBNLM. This follows after the reservoir at Panorama Hill in Graaff-Reinet was left roofless since November 2020.
Some of the corrugated iron sheets were stolen off during the period of September to November 2020 and the entire roof was later lifted off by the wind.
The DBNLM appointed a contractor to replace the roof who arrived at the site on Monday 21 December 2020. At that point in time, most of the corrugated iron sheets disappeared and all that was left of the roof was a few pieces of broken timber and less than twenty short sheets of corrugated iron.
Construction of the new roof started on the day of arrival of the contractor but the same night seven of the timber roof trusses collapsed into the reservoir. On Tuesday 22 December 2020, a front-end loader removed the timber from the water and construction continued but, on Thursday 24 December 2020, it caved in again.
This time around, the timber, with an estimated value of about R250 000, was left in the reservoir and only removed, stacked next to the reservoir, and covered under black plastic bags early in January 2021.
When Graaff-Reinet Advertiser accompanied Wiggell to the site on Wednesday 9 June at 11:45 am, the timber was still lying there in the open and the reservoir was still roofless, with the town's water supply unprotected and exposed to any possible pollution, irrespective of the fact that the contractor had been paid in full for the construction of the roof. This, of course, poses a major health risk to the residents of Graaff-Reinet since the town gets its water supply from the very same reservoir.
Wiggell is of the opinion that the failed construction of the roof can be attributed to the use of inferior timber roof trusses and construction without any proper engineering oversight. "The trusses must be able to carry its own weight, that of the roof and the workmen during construction. This is not a job that just anyone can do."
A tender to supply, deliver and construct a corrugated iron roof at the reservoir was posted on the DBNLM website on 17 September, with the cut-off date for tenders on 1 October, last year.
No further information could be found on the website regarding the eventual value of the tender or the company it was awarded to. In February when Graaff-Reinet Advertiser reported on this matter, the DBNLM responded that "this is an administrative matter that is receiving the necessary attention."
At the time when Wiggell attempted to lay the charge against the municipality, there was uncertainty with regard to the specific case that needs to be opened. SAPS did, however, take his statement and requested advice from the SAPS legal services in this regard.
The second case relates to the pension fund debacle reported on by Graaff-Reinet Advertiser a few times earlier this year. In December 2020 it came to light that the DBNLM failed to contribute to the municipal employees' pension fund since September 2019, irrespective of the fact that pension fund deductions to the amount of about R25 million have been made from their salaries.
On Friday 11 June 2011, Maxwill Jaftha, one of the employees at the DBNLM's infrastructure services (electricity) whose pension fund deductions have not been paid over to the pension fund, opened a case of fraud against the DBNLM.
According to Jaftha, the fact that DBNLM suspended him after he highlighted issues of concern on social media relating to the municipality, motivated him to open the case. Jaftha says his suspension is unfounded since the allegations that he made in the posts on social media are all true. He stated that he will continue to raise issues and share information in the public interest, and in the interest of justice, as it pains him to witness the destruction of the municipality whilst being unable to do anything about it. He added, however, that he is prepared to publicly apologize if the DBNLM can prove his posts on social media to be untrue.
This is a developing story since it was brought to the attention of Graaff-Reinet Advertiser that another DBNLM employee was suspended for participating in a protest action against the municipality in Klipplaat on 19 March.
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