Pretoria - Mpumalanga municipal manager Hugh Mbatha had misappropriated municipal funds, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Monday.
"Municipal funds in the amount of R165 505 were misappropriated in respect of a visit of officials and councillors of the municipality to Italy [in 2008]," Madonsela said.
The officials, from the Ehlanzeni municipality, allegedly claimed their luggage was lost and they asked for more funds as “they ran short of money”.
Mbatha instructed the transfer of municipal funds to an employee's credit card account to cover expenses.
On their return, they did not account for the expenditure and the balance of the R120 000 was divided among the delegates and Mbatha.
"The conduct of the municipal manager in respect of dividing the balance was unlawful, improper and amounted to maladministration," Madonsela said.
She said the Ehlanzeni municipal council should recover the money and lay charges of theft against Mbatha.
The Public Protector found Mbatha was guilty of maladministration and had violated the municipality's bursary policy.