The Hawks are investigating how a lowly Mangaung municipality official's signature was forged to pay a private company nearly R4.2m for no work in assessing the municipality's indigent beneficiaries, reports News24.

Maine Management and Chartered Accountants Incorporated was tasked to identify and register indigent households – those with a collective monthly income of below R3 200 – to benefit from a Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs Departmental policy to subside qualifying homes with six kilolitres of free water and 50kWh of free electricity per household per month. 

However, internal notes show that Maine received payment in May for two weeks' worth of work it did not do.

Moreover, documents, including internal Mangaung emails and other internal notes show that Mangaung deputy mayor Lulama Titi knew Maine was paid for work it did not do.

An email from former Mangaung council Speaker Stefani Lockman-Naidoo detailed how Maine was paid for services it did not do.

Her email was followed by Qondile Khedama, the municipality's spokesperson, who said Maine ‘did not show interest in their work’. 

Titi, the mayoral committee head of finance at the time, was copied in all emails.

Despite this, News24 has seen two official Mangaung payment orders, totalling nearly R4.2m and signed in July and August by acting CFO Luthanyane Denge, authorising payment to Maine for work it supposedly did from 1 to 15 May 2023, as well as from 15 May to 15 June.

Sources inside the Hawks said the payment order applications were supposedly made by finance manager Salome Mokhooa, whose handwriting and signature were allegedly forged by senior municipal officials to pay Maine. 

The applications contain scratched names, with Mokhooa's name included, the handwriting of which does not correspond with other documents signed by the finance manager.

Mokhooa declined to comment and referred all queries to Mangaung and the Hawks.

Hawks Free State spokesperson Captain Christopher Singo confirmed the unit was investigating the case of forgery related to the alleged fraudulent payment approval.

Full News24 report