Cape Town – The DA has defended one of its councillors who appeared in court for fraud and money laundering linked to Covid-19 relief funds, saying there was “significant misinformation” over the arrest of its Ward 23 (Melkbos-Big Bay) councillor Nora Grose.
She appeared in the Atlantis Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and was granted R10 000 bail after handing herself over to the Hawks Serious Corruption Investigation team at Atlantis police station. Her case was postponed to June 25 for further investigation.
The Hawks allege Grose facilitated the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) funding along with Reuben Swartz, chairperson of a non-governmental organisation, South African Religious Civic Organisation.
Swartz was arrested last December for similar charges, and released on R10 000 bail and is expected to appear again at the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court today.
The Hawks further said Grose again allegedly colluded with Swartz to siphon humanitarian funds valued at R170 000 meant for the distribution of food parcels in Atlantis reportedly funnelled to a church in Table View with links to some City officials.
This after the Good Party raised an alarm on April 30 about a money laundering scheme involving the use of humanitarian funds for DA party purposes. However, the City initially dismissed the allegations as misinformation.
Good Party spokesperson Brett Herron said if the City doesn't want to account to citizens for funds allocated for humanitarian relief and/or any special mayor’s fund ostensibly for Covid-19 and social relief, the premier must step up.
“Residents should know what role DA councillors played in identifying recipients of humanitarian funding and how much money is presently under investigation.
“They should know how much money has been abused for party purposes in similar circumstances. And they should know what steps the DA and/or City is taking to prevent further abuse and hold implicated people to account,” said Herron.
The ANC caucus called on Grose to step down and demanded Hawks investigate the Mayor’s Relief Fund.
“The ANC caucus in sub-council 1 continuously asked for a full report from the Sub Council to no avail. It is now clear that they were hiding this fraudulent activity. We also want to know what steps have been taken to hold implicated parties to account,” it said.
The City said it was working with authorities to recover the unspent grant funding transferred from the NGO to a church in contravention of grant conditions.
Mayor Dan Plato said the City’s legal services department advised him that based on the information available to the City, this was not a criminal matter and that records show the funds went towards the intended purpose of food relief.
“All allegations regarding malpractice by a city councillor were investigated by the City of Cape Town’s Office of the Speaker and no malpractice was found. I have no doubt the authorities will continue to receive the full cooperation of our officials.
“We remain fully committed to ensuring all financial transactions are carried out to the letter of the law, and this is confirmed annually by the auditor general,” said Plato.
DA Constituency Head in Durbanville-Blaauwberg Emma Powell dismissed Grose’s arrest as a procedural process.
“It must be stated upfront that in availing herself to be formally charged, the councillor did not plead to any charges. As the councillor and the City's legal team have not been provided with the case docket by the Hawks, we are unable to comment on the veracity or the merits of the charges,” she said.