Three ex-DA councillors held for allegedly taking bribes to ‘help’ ANC oust ex-mayor Athol Trollip

  • Three former Nelson Mandela Bay DA councillors have been arrested for allegedly taking bribes from the ANC to help it oust former mayor Athol Trollip.
  • Trollip, now with ActionSA, said he was not surprised by the arrests.
  • Eight people were arrested on Thursday by the Hawks in a fraud investigation involving an amount of R24.6 million.

Three former Nelson Mandela Bay DA councillors will spend the night in jail alongside ANC regional secretary Luyolo Nqakula after being accused of taking R100 000 each from Nqakula to help the ANC oust DA mayor Athol Trollip on Freedom Day in 2018.

The alleged plot was uncovered by the Hawks which were investigating an irregular toilet tender worth R24.6 million, awarded by the municipality in 2020.

On Thursday, Hawks spokesperson Yolisa Mgolodela told News24 investigators believed R400 000 of the amount went to Nqakula before he disbursed R100 000 to each of the councillors.

Following the overthrow of the DA-led coalition, the party terminated the councillors’ membership.

The former DA councillors – Neville Higgins, Trevor Louw and Victor Manyathi – and ANC strongman Nqakula were among eight people arrested by East London’s Serious Organised Crime Unit of the Hawks on Thursday.

The unit swooped in on the suspects in different areas of Nelson Mandela Bay.

READ | Bobani in, Trollip out after Nelson Mandela Bay motion of no confidence succeeds

They face charges of fraud, money laundering and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The other suspects are acting city manager Noxolo Nqwazi, municipality housing department official Norman Mapu and businesspeople Xolani and Nwabisa Masela.

They will appear in the Port Elizabeth Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Friday morning.

The DA, which welcomed the arrests, described it as a vindication of the party’s decision to terminate the councillors’ membership in 2018, following what it said was their role in collapsing the DA-led coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Mgolodela said:

When the investigators were probing the irregular awarding of the contract worth R24.6 million, they decided to follow R400 000 which came from the millions paid to the company that was awarded the tender. The investigators noticed that the company paid the R400 000 to a private businessman, who then [allegedly] paid it into Nqakula’s account.

“Upon further investigations, it was uncovered that the three councillors took part in the ousting of their own DA mayor.”

Xolani and Nwabisa Masela own HT Pelatona Projects company, which scored the lucrative tender.

About the alleged role played by its former councillors in the ousting of Trollip on 27 April 2018, the DA said:

Should this be confirmed in a court of law, it will confirm what the DA has suspected all along, which is that the ANC will stop at nothing to stay in power, including stealing money from the public purse, to pay bribes to swing votes in the council.

The party added it stood for good governance and had a zero-tolerance policy for corruption and would be monitoring the case closely.

It said the law must take its course.

READ Hawks arrest top Nelson Mandela Bay official, businesswoman for alleged tender corruption

Called for comment, Trollip, who is now the Eastern Cape chairperson of ActionSA, said he was not surprised and if the allegations were true, the people of Nelson Mandela Bay had lost out because there had been chaos in the region ever since.

The Eastern Cape ANC said it would release a statement after the suspects appeared in court.

The party’s provincial secretary, Lulama Ngcukayithobi, said: “For now, we don’t have full details surrounding the arrests. We are hoping to get the details tomorrow once the accused have appeared in court. Thereafter, we will issue a statement on the matter.”