22 held for tampering with Joburg revenue system

Johannesburg - Twenty-two people have been arrested for corruption, fraud, and tampering with the City of Johannesburg's revenue collection systems, Mayor Parks Tau said on Thursday.

"In the last month 22 arrests have been made relating to 109 cases of corruption that resulted in an estimated R200m loss in the city's revenue collections," Tau told reporters in Johannesburg.

"We expect to arrest 10 more people within the next two weeks."

He said two people were employees of City Power, which manages the city's power provision, and two were with the City of Johannesburg, which is the city's overall municipal body.

"The remainder were external contractors and general members of the public."

He said the city had recovered R107m from the losses caused by the corruption.

"The balance of the losses has already been accounted for in the city's balance sheet and will not impact residents' or business accounts."

Tau also said "large power users" were possibly involved in defrauding the city.

"We have identified 30 large power users consisting of businesses that are possibly [involved] in corruption and we are currently finalising some of the investigations."

The city was working with the National Prosecuting Authority, police, and the Hawks in investigating the matter, he said.

"We are working with law enforcement agencies and we are comfortable that we will have convictions."

Tau refused to reveal who the "large power users" were but promised he would once the investigations were over.

"We are dealing with this with an iron fist to ensure we do not have to deal with these kinds of criminal activities again."

Power cuts

Tau dismissed reports that Johannesburg had been going through planned power cuts which officials call "load shedding" in the past few months.

"Power outages that may have been experienced by some residents are as a result of criminal activities."

He said these "criminal activities" had caused the city to implement unplanned power outages.

He said a number of power failures had been caused by cable theft, vandalism and illegal connections.

The mayor said the poor restoration times for power were caused by the quantity of the outages.

"It is clear that we are not dealing with issues as had been alleged... [with] load shedding in the City of Johannesburg. No decision of that nature has been made."

To address vandalism and criminal activities, the city was in the process of installing a security system to manage and monitor access to the power stations and substations.

"We will not tolerate crime, any form of criminal activities or disruptions and tampering with the city's system."