In a recent controversy, Mayor Chris Pappas of KwaZulu-Natal has come under fire after it was revealed that Umngeni Municipality funds non-profit organizations (NPOs), including one run by his fiancé, JP Prinsloo. These allegations of nepotism and corruption were lodged by former DA member Sizwe Mchunu, who filed a complaint with the Public Protector’s office.
The main focus of the accusations is the appointment of Prinsloo as the chairperson of Umngeni Tourism, an NPO funded by the municipality. It has been claimed that Prinsloo’s organization received excessive grants and preferential treatment.
When questioned about the funding, Mayor Pappas did not deny that his fiancé’s NPO received R100,000. However, he clarified that Umngeni Tourism was one of three NPOs funded by the municipality and had been established before he took office as mayor. Pappas also denied any involvement of Prinsloo’s other company, Growth Spurt Consultancy (GSC), in a tender for hosting the Light Up Umngeni Festival.
According to Mchunu’s letter to the Public Protector’s office, there are concerns about spousal nepotism and corruption. It is alleged that Pappas and Prinsloo coordinated their resignations from their previous political positions to be closer to each other. Prinsloo’s resignation stated that it was to further his business career in the NPO sector.
The controversy deepens with claims that Umngeni Tourism received a R100,000 grant weeks before the municipality closed for the December holidays in 2022, four months before the end of the council’s financial year. This grant amount far exceeds what other tourism entities within the municipality received.
Mchunu also raised questions about the operation of GSC before its official registration. These allegations suggest a need for an investigation into potential nepotism and corruption within Umngeni Municipality under Mayor Chris Pappas’s leadership.
The DA-run Umngeni Municipality must now address these serious allegations. The necessity of the excessive grant to Prinsloo’s organization and the lack of documentation justifying this decision raise concerns about transparency and accountability.