Matshidiso Mfikoe, currently the City of Johannesburg’s member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for public safety, is under investigation for misusing public money for her own benefit during her tenure as MMC for environment and corporate services prior to the local government elections in May 2011.

Her mandate as portfolio head of environment placed City Parks – Johannesburg’s greening entity – under her political control and she has been accused of using City Parks funds for a range of personal expenses. 
 
Among these were a cosmetic makeover prior to the City Parks greening concert on 20 March 2011 and 100 free tickets for the event for friends and family. 
 
In addition, senior management employees under her direction were apparently instructed as far back as 2009 to buy gifts for her for a variety of occasions ranging from Valentine’s Day and birthdays to her farewell in 2011. 
 
She is also alleged to have used City Parks’s funds to pay for cellphone repairs worth R1 389, months after she had left her post as MMC for the environment.
 
It was also alleged that Mfikoe arranged jobs at City Parks for her brother and her personal assistant’s husband, despite their not being qualified. 
 
The allegations against Mfikoe have been set out in a report which has been given to the council speaker’s office. The speaker has requested further evidence and has handed the matter over to the council’s ethics committee.
 
City Parks spokesperson Jenny Moodley said a press conference would be held on 13 March to address the matter. She declined to comment further. 
 
Mfikoe’s spokesperson, Anda Mbikwana, said: “The city has confirmed that this matter is receiving urgent attention in line with the provisions of the code of conduct for councillors and in compliance with the Municipal Systems Act.
 
“It is regrettable to note that faceless people continue to launch untested public attacks on the Johannesburg City’s member of the mayoral committee for public safety, Councillor Matshidiso Mfikoe. This is done in instalments, without providing credible evidence to support their allegations.”
 
He also said that platforms dedicated to reporting wrongdoing, such as the toll-free telephone number (0800 002 587) and SMS lines (32792 and 32694), had been ignored in this case.
  
City spokesperson Gabu Tugwana says the investigation into the allegations is going ahead using the information that is currently available, but that the speaker has asked councillors to come forward with any further information or evidence they may have. 
 
“The City never fails to do its duty. Should there be any conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, it will be taken further,” he said. “We also need to wait for the ethics committee to get to the bottom of the matter, based on the available information.”
 
Mfikoe has pledged to assist the investigation if necessary. “MMC Mfikoe has indicated her readiness to cooperate with the investigation should the speaker’s office require her to do so,” Mbikwana said.  
 
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Excerpt
Our new zero, City of Joburg’s mayoral committee member for public safety Matshidiso Mfikoe, is being probed for using public money for her own cosmetic makeover, gifts, free concert tickets for friends and family and cellphone repairs.
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