Mkhize was arrested following an investigation by the national clean audit task team.

 Nonhlanhla Mkhize, the director-general in the office of the premier in KwaZulu-Natal. Photo: Twitter/ @SADTUKZN

In what came as a shock to KwaZulu-Natal government’s senior officials, the provincial government’s Director-General (DG) Nonhlanhla Mkhize, was arrested for defeating the ends of justice.

According to Hawks spokesperson, Brigadier Thandi Mbambo, Mkhize was arrested yesterday following an investigation by the national clean audit task team, allegedly after there had been attempts to block a probe into financial irregularities at KZN’s Mhlathuze Water Board.

“The chairperson of Mhlathuze Water Board … reported allegations of irregular appointment of service providers without following the supply chain management protocols of the board, as well as contravention of section 51(1) of the Public Finance Management Act, by not complying with the operational policies of the public entity.

“Investigations revealed that some senior officials are implicated in the irregularities that resulted in the Mhlathuze Water Board being prejudiced by an amount of about R37 million,” says Mbambo.

While she could not say whether Mkhize, who was arrested along with an accomplice, directly benefited from the irregular appointment of services providers at the board, she says the person who intimidated those who were investigating the financial irregularities claimed that they were sent by the KZN DG.

“Following the investigation … and compilation of the forensic report, the chairperson of the Mhlathuze Water Board allegedly received a visit from an unknown person at her home claiming to be from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and that he was sent by the senior manager in the premier’s office.

“The … individual threatened the chairperson with arrest and demanded the forensic report. He further insisted that the complainant stop with the investigation. It later emerged that the person was not from the NIA and that he was in cahoots with people of interest implicated in the investigation.”

Mbambo says the operation into the irregularities at Umhlathuze Water is ongoing and two more people implicated in corruption, fraud and money laundering have also been arrested.

They will all appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court soon.

Mbambo adds that more arrests are imminent.

Mkhize, who is the former Mpumalanga provincial government DG, was appointed as KwaZulu-Natal’s director-general in 2017.

Whistleblower reported irregularities

According to Mhlathuze Water Board spokesperson, Siyabonga Maphumulo, the irregularities in the appointment of service providers were brought to the attention of the board’s leadership by a whistle-blower.

An investigation was then launched.

KZN Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, yesterday afternoon declined to comment on Mkhize’s arrest.

“Respectfully, at this stage, the Office of the Premier is not in a position to make any comment on the matter as it is in the hands of law enforcement authorities,” her spokesperson, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, said.

While the IFP was by late yesterday afternoon still gathering more information around Mkhize’s arrest, the party said it was not ‘surprised, by the latest development in the KZN premier’s department’.

IFP national chairperson, Blessed Gwala, said, “Given the high level of corruption activity within the provincial government, as the IFP we are not surprised that the DG has been arrested.”

In 2019, suspended Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwabane, wrote to then KZN premier, Sihle Zikalala, instructing him to act against Mkhize.

This was after a probe by the Public Protector found that Mkhize had appointed a service provider while still in her Mpumalanga DG position without following procedures.

However, a high court in Gauteng later set Mkhwebane’s findings aside.

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