PALAPYE: Palapye Development Trust is yet to make public the findings of investigations into the alleged mismanagement of funds that has been haunting the Trust for over five years now.
Chairman Dithapelo Tshotlego however revealed that the Trust coordinator has been suspended. While he confirmed that investigations into alleged mismanagement of funds are complete he would not reveal the findings, and said they are still consulting their legal advisors on the issue. Those implicated said Tshotlego, would face a disciplinary hearing.
The Trust is also under pressure to pay back the P12 million it received from the now dissolved Citizen Entrepreneur Assistance Equity Fund (CEMAEF). CEMAEF came into the picture around 2007 when National Development Bank (NDB) wanted to auction the Trust shopping complex and the financial institution was approached to take over the loan from the bank and clear the debt on the Trust's behalf. They paid the P12 million loan, inclusive of interests from 2001 to 2008. Hence an agreement was reached between CEMAEF and the Trust to use the rentals from shops in the mall as monthly instalments. The Trust has already received a letter from CEMAEF that states that failure to pay the loan in full will result in the mall being sold. "We have engaged a lawyer to assist us to source funds from other financial institutions so that we do not lose the mall. We are pushing hard and we cannot afford to lose the property," said Tshotlego. He cited another challenge in that the Ministry of Lands and Housing has been turning down their proposal to demarcate the land. "There has been serious allegations
It is apparent that the issue of funds mismanagement within the Trust has been going on for years as evidenced by correspondences from the Ministry that dates back to 2004. The chairman said it was difficult then to know what was happening within the Trust because everything was done in secret. "We knew nothing about the financial audits, its findings and even its recommendations until we took over. So I believe none of the recommendations were implemented." Tshotlego promised the Palapye community that they would work towards put everything back in order. He said they will also schedule a kgotla meeting to inform residents about the latest developments and said the findings could be communicated in two weeks time.
In a letter that the Department of Vocational Education and Training wrote to the Trust in 2004 there were indications that the Trust has committed serious financial irregularities that have even threatened its survival. The department recommended, among others, that the transfer of money made to individual accounts be stopped with immediate effect, bank statements for the past three years be sought and reconciled with books of accounts and that the matter be referred to the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime.