Amathole district municipality (ADM) mayor Nomasikizi Khonza arrested by the Hawks


Khonza was arrested together with a senior municipal official and former ADM councillor, Nanziwe Rulashe.
Rulashe was the organiser of the controversial Miss Amathole Heritage pageant, which received R2-million from the cash-strapped municipality.
Khonza and four ADM Aspire Development Agency employees Ntombokuqala Mnqete, Thabo Shenxane, Sandra Weppelman and Zamela Kiviet were arrested yesterday afternoon by the elite crime-fighting unit.
Rulashe, her relative Anitha Rulashe, Mawande Njenza and Sigcina Saba – who allegedly benefited from money paid by ADM to Rulashe – were also arrested.
With the exception of Anitha Rulashe, they all appeared before the East London Magistrate’s Court late yesterday where the mayor was granted bail of R15000, and the four Aspire employees were given bail of R5000 each.
The remaining accused were given bail of R10000 each.
The ANC’s Amathole regional secretary, Thembalethu (Teris) Ntutu, accused the Hawks of “persecuting” Khonza, and vowed that the party would support her to the fullest.
“We respect the process of the law and we will mobilise and make sure that they speed up their investigation, this is just a manipulation of state organs like the Hawks to persecute her,” said Ntutu
Provincial Hawks head Major-General Nyameko Nogwanya said the accused were arrested for allegedly defrauding the ADM.
Nogwanya said the investigation took over a year due to “obstacles” encountered during the probe.
He intimated there had been attempts by people “in various positions” in the province to “fiddle” with the case.
“That’s not how we operate. People who interfere here must know this is defeating the ends of justice. We serve without fear or favour,” he said.
“The mandate of the Hawks is to fight crime, and by arresting these people, [it] tells you the role we are playing in society.
“We faced challenges but, because of the mandate, we managed,” said Nogwanya.
The suspects were initially expected to hand themselves over to Hawks investigating officer, Captain Lupumlo Lwana, but did not. They were later arrested at their workplaces.
Khonza handed herself over, avoiding an embarrassment as the Hawks were due to arrest her at an ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting at the Osner Hotel yesterday.
Four other employees were picked up at the Aspire offices in Vincent where they were read their rights before they were loaded into a Hawks minibus.
At the time of going to print, the details of the charge sheet were not yet clear.
Nogwanya said part of the case was a probe into a law firm which had charged ADM R300000 for a case that should have cost no more than R90000.
“We are not going to rest while there are people who are allegedly defrauding the state,” he said.
Last year, the Dispatch reported how Rulashe was given more than R2-million by ADM for her pageant. Ngqushwa local municipality gave her R175000 while Mnquma Municipality added R350000. With the money, Rulashe bought herself a Kia Sportage SUV worth R190000.
At the time, ADM spokesman Siyabulela Makunga said the R2.03-million donation was to fund the heritage pageant .