Top Joburg Council official resigns, alleging a cover-up of reports exposing City wrongdoing
Mesuli Mlandu, executive director in the City Manager’s office in Johannesburg, has resigned from his position. Mlandu says his resignation, with effect from last Friday, was precipitated by the concealment of his reports from a council meeting containing evidence of fraud and corruption in the employment of former group forensics and investigation services head General Shadrack Sibiya.
“If I am going to report to the council speaker, which is within my entitlement, and those things are blocked and not tabled, I am left on my own… It is, therefore, the concealment of these reports that has caused me to throw in the towel, because without having access to the municipal council, it has become … highly risky to my personal and professional life to prosecute the matters raised thereto internally.”
These were Mesuli Mlandu’s words on his resignation as executive director in the City Manager’s office in Johannesburg.
In his three reports referenced above, Mlandu set out requests and correspondence to the speaker of council, the municipal council, the minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, the SAPS and the Office of the Public Prosecutor that refer to allegations of fraud, corruption and maladministration in the employment of Shadrack Sibiya.
Mlandu claims these reports were kept from last Wednesday’s council meeting because they implicated certain people who are important to the governing coalition.
“If the matter of Sibiya gets into the council, former mayor of Joburg and ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba will have to face the music and this will trap the coalition. Early in the year, I fired 130 employees in the City on the irregularities of their contracts … But when I find evidence of fraud and corruption in the employment of Sibiya, why am I being blocked to have the matters attended to by the council?”
Mlandu’s resignation follows a series of formal complaints against Mayor Mpho Phalatse.
Last month, Mlandu approached the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) to force council speaker Vasco da Gama to act against alleged criminal conduct by Phalatse.
He further asked Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to intervene in Da Gama’s obstruction of the council to consider a report on Phalatse’s alleged subversion of evidence which implicates Sibiya in the unlawful acquisition of counter-intelligence instruments.
Phalatse and Sibiya were cleared by the State Security Agency (SSA) on allegations around the possession of intelligence-gathering equipment. However, Mlandu disputes this, saying that evidence from the SSA has implicated both Phalatse and Sibiya.
Mlandu said although he has resigned from his position, he will not walk away from seeking justice for the people of Johannesburg. He said he will continue pursuing the case, not as a City employee, but as a state witness in ongoing investigations by the Hawks and Public Protector.
“My battle with Sibiya did not start in 2022. In 2019, we were already at loggerheads because I was questioning his appointment. He even sent people to the Eastern Cape, where I am from, to do an undercover operation about me.”
Sibiya has denied the allegations against him, saying that Mlandu has an obsession with him and is “destructive”. Sibiya claims Mlandu resigned when he realised that the council might be onto him regarding his influence in the interviewing and appointment of his former colleague Anele Kwababa, whom he denied he knew.
“He realised that his matter was on the council agenda for him to be suspended, and he decided to resign.”
Sibiya says Mlandu has been on his case ever since he started working for the City.
“Immediately after he joined the City, he started to report my appointment and that of Chief Tembe and another colleague to the Public Protector (PP). The PP sent a list of questions and also came in to interview all involved. The PP produced a report and cleared me … He [Mlandu] then shifted the goalposts and alleged that information was withheld from the Public Protector.
“He is fighting with so many people everywhere he goes. He alleges that I procured spying equipment and requested State Security to conduct an official investigation, which they did. A report is now out, but both he and [acting City Manager] Floyd Brink are not prepared to accept the outcome.
“Every day I get a different media query around the same issues and from the same people. It’s called harassment. He has resigned now. He must move on as I have also moved on. I am now employed by the police and I cannot keep on wrestling with Mesuli and Brink in the pigsty,” said Sibiya.
Speaker Da Gama told Daily Maverick he is surprised at the allegations and rejects the claim that he concealed any reports.
“A senior staff member such as Mesuli Mlandu should understand the differences between the executive and legislative reporting processes to council meetings. The private Office of the Speaker was served with a report by Mlandu. The Speaker took note of the contents of this report and the fact that it had been copied to the Office of the City Manager. As it is an executive report, it is not the responsibility of the Speaker of the Council, who is the head of the legislature, to submit this report to the Council.”
Mayor Phalatse’s spokesperson, Mabine Seabe, said: “Insofar as the allegations levelled at the executive mayor are concerned, they are without substance. The SSA director-general delivered a report clearing the City, the GFIS and General Sibiya of any wrongdoing.” DM