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No, eight people arrested in South African tender fraud case aren’t ‘Democratic Alliance officials’

IN SHORT: Two people who work for the Democratic Alliance-run Cape Town municipality were implicated in the fraud, but there is no evidence that they are “officials” in the political party. The other arrests were of employees from a construction company.

“8 DA officials have just been arrested for corruption of over R700 million,” reads a screenshot of a social media post, itself circulating on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok in December 2022.

Most versions include a photo of a group of men, their backs to the camera, and a headline from the Independent Online news website: “Eight arrested in City of Cape Town tender fraud probe.”

The DA is the Democratic Alliance, a political party that is the main opposition to South Africa’s governing African National Congress. The DA runs both the municipality of Cape Town and the coastal city’s Western Cape province.

But were eight officials from the DA really arrested in a R700 million (about US$40 million) corruption case in December?

DAArrest_False

Arrests made – but context not accurate

The Independent Online article was published on 24 November. It also appeared in the Cape Times, one of the stable of Independent Media newspapers.

The first paragraph reads: “Police confirmed on Thursday that eight warrants of arrest were executed in connection with alleged corrupt activities involving tender fraud in the construction sector” within the Cape Town municipality. 

News of the arrests also appeared on the Polity, News24, Times Live and Eyewitness News websites. According to the reports, the municipality awarded a tender for construction work to a company called Ilitha Painters and Decorators. 

But the company allegedly “misrepresented to the city that certain work was done”, the prosecutor in the case told Times Live. And two employees of the Cape Town municipality allegedly “allowed the invoices to be paid though they knew that the work was not done”. 

The investigation is still ongoing. A police spokesperson told Polity that the case involved accusations of “inflating invoices, irregularly paying service providers for construction work not undertaken” and other activities.

“More arrests are imminent,” the spokesperson told IOL.

What we do already know is that two of those arrested are employees of the municipality, and the rest are part of the construction company allegedly involved in the fraud. The municipality is reportedly “taking disciplinary action” against the two officials.

Cape Town municipality employees could have any political affiliation

The City of Cape Town municipality is governed by a council with members from several different political parties. About 58% of the councillors are from the DA, as of the most recent election, held in 2021. 

But people employed by the Cape Town municipality are not necessarily members of the DA political party. So even though two of the people arrested in the investigation work for the municipality, they may have any political party affiliation. Africa Check could not find any evidence that these officials are affiliated with the DA. 

And even if the two city officials were also members of the political party, the other arrests were of people in a construction company, with no mention of their political affiliation. We rate the claim as false.

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