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Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Mossel Bay municipal manager must pay back the money

The FF Plus welcomes the decision that the Mossel Bay Municipal Manager, Mr Colin Puren, must pay back the R573 805,75, which was unlawfully paid to him by the Mossel Bay Local Municipality.

Puren must pay back the amount between 30 September and 28 February 2027, when his term as municipal manager comes to an end.

In February, the Mossel Bay council authorised the Mayor, Dirk Kotze, to appoint a municipal manager and negotiate a salary on behalf of the council.

Kotze, however, failed to disclose letters from the Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Anton Bredell, and the then national Minister of Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to the council.

In these letters, both ministers recommend that Mr Puren must not be appointed on the highest salary scale, but on a lower salary scale.

The irregularities with Puren’s appointment would never have come to light if a former DA councillor, Anco Barker, had not blown the whistle.

This compelled the FF Plus and other opposition parties to file criminal charges of fraud and corruption against the DA caucus in the Mossel Bay council.

In an unusual move during a special council meeting on 10 August 2023, Kotze brought an urgent motion regarding Puren’s appointment before the council.

The letters that had previously been unlawfully withheld from the council were included in the item.

The council decided to revoke Puren’s initial salary package and that he must be appointed on the minimum salary scale for municipal managers.

Taking all this and the DA’s denial of any irregularities into consideration, the decision that Puren must pay back the money he earned unlawfully is in effect an admission that appointing him on the highest salary scale was indeed unlawful and that the council was deliberately misled.

The FF Plus is satisfied that the overpayment will be recovered, but is still of the opinion that the Mayor and his councillors acted unlawfully, and will keep a close eye on how the criminal complaint process plays out.

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