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Monday Jul 07, 2014

Tshwane council official held over building plan bribe

Some of the building plans that catapulted the Tshwane metro to the status of South Africa's building capital standings may have been approved fraudulently.

This is the implication of yesterday's arrest of a City of Tshwane building inspector suspected of accepting bribes from developers to approve plans for their developments.

The official - who cannot be named yet - is spending the weekend at the Silverton police station and will appear in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Monday.

The arrest came barely a week after a survey conducted by Statistics South Africa showed the Tshwane metro recorded the highest value for building plans passed last year compared to any of the country's other five metropolitan municipalities.

Makgorometsa Makgata, head of Tshwane's city planning and development department, said alarm bells rang a while ago when developers complained about being 'asked for something' to ensure speedy approval when they submitted their building plans to the municipality.

Early this year and acting on the complaints, the department launched a forensic investigation into the allegations in conjunction with the Hawks.

This week, money totalling R5 000 was made available to a potential client and a trap set for the official, who has become the latest in the growing list of Tshwane employees and officials to have been arrested since the beginning of the year as the municipality cracks down on corruption.

He was initially due to meet the client at an upmarket restaurant at Silverlakes where he would have been arrested at about 11am.

By that time, the Hawks investigators had been waiting in and around the restaurant for most of the morning, unseen in the parking lot, which was swamped with patrons and members of the media.

The appointment was later changed to another restaurant a few kilometres away at the Silverwater Crossing shopping centre.

Just as it appeared the long wait at Silverlakes was repeating itself, officials from the Hawks walked out of the restaurant, having pounced on the unsuspecting man who had walked in to collect his bribe.

There was a brief discussion in the parking lot before the inspector was whisked off in an unmarked Hawks vehicle to the police station, his home for the weekend. All the money was recovered. Makgata said it was not yet known if other employees in the department had been involved.

Pretoria News Weekend


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