24 January 2024

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) notes and welcomes the arrest of Mercy Petla, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Matlosana Local Municipality in the North West Province. Petla is accused of receiving a vehicle valued at over R1.4 million in exchange for manipulating the municipality’s tender processes in favour of GMHM Construction and Projects. Petla, along with two GMHM Construction and Projects employees, was arrested by the Hawks on January 17 and has since been released on R35,000 bail each.

As SAMWU, we applaud the efforts of the Hawks in addressing fraud and corruption in the country’s municipalities. Municipal leaders have, for too long, either actively participated in or enabled fraud and corruption with impunity, resulting in financial strain on many municipalities and hindering their ability to provide quality services to residents.

While we appreciate the arrest, we are concerned that Petla has returned to oversee the municipality’s finances despite facing serious criminal charges. SAMWU, therefore, calls for the immediate suspension of Petla pending the finalisation of the serious charges against her. The Union firmly believes that her presence during the investigations will not serve the interests of justice.

It is our considered view that Petla should be given the necessary space and time to address the charges against her. Workers and residents of Matlosana deserve a CFO focused on the sound management of municipal resources, not one whose attention is divided due to ongoing criminal proceedings.

Though Petla’s arrest is a positive step in combating corruption, we remain alarmed by the number of unresolved cases across municipalities. We call for the swift resolution of all corruption-related cases to enhance service delivery, uphold ethical governance, and promote transparency in the local government sector.

SAMWU is also disturbed by comments attributed to Petla, where she claimed to be “more powerful than Mbalula.” Such remarks depict Petla as a politician rather than a municipal administrator. It is precisely these comments and behaviors that have turned many municipalities into political playgrounds for politicians. This assertion further vindicates SAMWU’s position when opposing the Municipal Systems Act Amendments, emphasising that ordinary municipal workers do not influence municipal politics; instead, it is senior municipal leaders who play a significant role.

Issued by SAMWU North West Province

Vincent Diphoko

Provincial Secretary

083 580 8815


Papikie Mohale

National Media Officer 

076 795 8670