The former municipal manager of the Mogalakwena Local Municipality in Limpopo will have to go to prison next week unless municipal records requested by Sakeliga in May 2021 are delivered to Sakeliga by the municipality today.
Hendrick Ngoepe, former municipal manager, the municipality itself and its present municipal manager, were found guilty of contempt of court last week on application by Sakeliga, because they had failed to comply with a court order obtained by us on 21 January this year. Ngoepe was sentenced last week to 60 days of imprisonment, suspended on condition that the municipality produces the complete record by 2 December.
The initial court order of 21 January 2022 and the resultant contempt and sentence of imprisonment resulted from a request for information concerning service delivery and municipal matters that Sakeliga, in collaboration with the Mokopane Chamber of Business, submitted to the municipality in May 2021. The request covers a considerable number of records that would enable the community to address a complete lack of financial management by the municipality, through litigation and other actions. The request for information, however, was not responded to and Sakeliga successfully approached the High Court to compel the municipality to produce the records. Up until today and notwithstanding the court order no records have been produced. After all reasonable actions had been taken to induce the municipality to produce the records, the only option remaining was again to approach the High Court again with a view to having a sentence imposed against the municipality and the municipal manager who was acting at the time of the 21 January order.
Last week’s order orders the municipality to furnish Sakeliga with all the records in terms of the initial request for information, such as financial reports and council resolutions of the municipality. If this is not done, Ngoepe must immediately be arrested by the SAPS and taken to a correctional facility to serve 60 days of imprisonment. In such an event, Sakeliga will consider bringing a court application for the present municipal manager to be imprisoned as well.
Both to prevent and, where necessary, recover from total collapse at municipal level, government officials must be held to their basic constitutional obligations, such as complying with requests for information. For this reason, Sakeliga is prepared to have public officials imprisoned in support of our legal strategy to counter local economic and municipal decay.
Read more about the case here.