By JACKSON MAPAPAYI
ABOUT nine employees at Solwezi Municipal Council have been suspended for allegedly obtaining money illegally from traders at Mitec market.
The incident is said to have happened on September 13, 2021 after the employees harassed some traders with shops by accusing them of keeping buckets containing urine at their entrances.
The employees then allegedly forced the shop owners to pay K500 fines or risk having their premises closed.
Solwezi Town Clerk Bornwell Luanga revealed in an interview that management made a follow up after receiving the reports.
Mr Luanga said the council constituted a team of auditors and council police officers to thoroughly investigate the matter.
“And after thorough investigations, management has decided to suspend seven council police officers and two revenue collectors for obtaining money illegally,” said Mr Luanga.
He said after the investigations had been done, management discovered that K2, 550 was collected from the traders and the officers that were involved were identified.
He said the council has since refunded the traders and management will recover the money from the employees’ salaries.
Mr Luanga said because of some element of theft, a tribunal will be constituted so that people can come forward and give more information.
He described the action by the officers to extort money from the traders as unfortunate.
“And after the tribunal sittings, a decision will be made on the next course of action to be taken against the officers,” Mr Luanga said.
He said the due process of setting up the tribunal will be followed so that they exculpate themselves and that those that will be found wanting may lose their employment.
“This action should therefore serve as lesson to others who may be wishing to get involved in such illegal activities,” Mr Luanga said.
He said council staff should operate within the confines of the law as opposed to engaging in illegal activities that will tarnish the image of the institution.
Mr Luanga has also advised traders not to pay any fees or fines which are not prescribed.
“This is because we have information that there are people who are masquerading as council staff and the matter is being investigated. So people should be very careful,” he said.