Eastern Cape councillor charged with fraud five months after RDP house claim

Mbongeni Mabaso appeared at the Mthatha magistrate’s court on a fraud charge.
Image: 123RF/3DRENDERINGS

King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality councillor Mbongeni Mabaso has been criminally charged with trying to sell an RDP house in Mthatha.

Mabaso allegedly took R25,000 from the desperate resident in exchange for the free government house.

He confirmed on Wednesday he had appeared at the Mthatha magistrate’s court on a fraud charge.

He was taken by police from his home on Friday to have his fingerprints taken and be officially charged. He was released the same day.

He was instructed to appear in court on Wednesday. After a brief appearance, his case was postponed to September 10.

Mabaso maintains his innocence and on Wednesday told DispatchLIVE his arrest was part of a “political plot to tarnish” his name and “eliminate” him from standing for the 2021 local government elections.

The home-seeker, who reported the matter to police in March, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

A small group of people from Mabaso’s ward picketed outside court on Wednesday calling for him to be jailed while awaiting trial.

The troubled councillor was fired last week by co-operative governance & traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Xolile Nqatha over the RDP scandal and other allegations from residents.

Community members in his ward wrote a petition to Nqatha in May calling for Mabaso’s removal and accusing him of corruption related to distribution of food parcels as well as housing allocations.

His axing was communicated by Nqatha through a statement shared on social media last week, but Mabaso said on Wednesday he was yet to be officially served with a dismissal letter.

On Friday, the KSD council was meant to meet and endorse his removal, but Mabaso turned to the Mthatha high court, where he was granted an interdict forbidding the municipality from enforcing Nqatha’s decision.

On Wednesday, Mabaso said just hours after he had successfully interdicted the council, he had received a call from police asking about his whereabouts.

“I told them I was at my Zimbane Valley home. They arrived and told me they had been sent to arrest me for fraud relating to the RDP house and the R25,000.

“I was taken to the Mthatha central police station and had my pictures and fingerprints taken before I was officially charged with fraud relating to the case that was opened against me in March.

“The fact that I was arrested just moments after I had interdicted the council from removing me, even though the case was opened in March, shows this is a political ploy to discredit me and eliminate me from standing as a councillor again next year.

“I cannot wait to prove in court that I had nothing to do with such alleged corruption,” said Mabaso.

His high court bid to have his axing reviewed and set aside is set for Friday.

Siphesonke Mngeni, who identified himself as a community leader speaking on behalf of the majority in ward 4, welcomed the latest developments.

“This decisiveness by the MEC is highly appreciated as it clearly shows the high level of seriousness by his office when it comes to attending to concerns and grievances from voters.

“This decision comes after the ward 4 community submitted a number of petitions to KSD municipality and eventually marched to the municipality in October 2019 with a number of grievances which were not attended to, but only delaying tactics were brought to play from time to time.

“This resulted in the ward 4 community escalating the matter to the office of the MEC in May, seeking intervention,” Mngeni said.

He called for justice for the alleged fraud victim.

“We challenge the housing department to see to it that the needy woman who was victimised when seeking help for an RDP house must indeed be allocated one.”

By Asanda Nini

 

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