Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba's personal messenger and ANC Youth League regional task team member Ayanda Matinise was caught by the King William's Town police on Saturday afternoon and charged with transporting alcohol in a state vehicle.
Police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci said Matinise had been charged with contravening the regulations of the Disaster Management Act, driving an unauthorised state vehicle, and attempted bribery of SAPS members.
He was stopped at the busy Buffalo Street in the King William's Town CBD while trying to flee from the police.
Soci said: "Police received information about a state vehicle allegedly transporting liquor. During the police patrols, a vehicle fitting the description was spotted at Buffalo Road, but the driver accelerated when members tried to stop him.
"Police gave chase and managed to stop him. Upon searching the vehicle, liquor was recovered in the boot. The suspect, who was alone in the vehicle, was immediately arrested and charged."
Soci confirmed that Matinise was in police custody and would appear in the King William's Town Magistrate's Court on Monday.
In a statement, Gomba's chief of staff Andile Sidinile said: "Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba has learnt with shock how one of her core staff members took the department's car without authorisation and allegedly broke the law by allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol."
Alcohol was reportedly found in the boot of the car, said Sidinile.
"The MEC would like to put it on record that such behaviour will not be tolerated and if proven to be true, there will be serious consequences," said Sidinile.
"Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal and has been proven to be a direct cause of car accidents and other violent crimes which end up resulting in trauma cases being reported to our health facilities," said Sidinile.
He added that the ban of alcohol sale and its distribution under national lockdown alert level 3 has helped the department focus more on the urgent fight against Covid-19.
He said: "As we welcome the speedy arrest of the staffer, we will act swiftly and with necessary decisiveness through our internal disciplinary processes as such behaviour is intolerable."
Gomba condemned the official's alleged crime.
"Such alleged behaviour does not only bring my office and the department into disrepute but, by extension, the entire provincial government and, as such, it is condemned with the contempt it deserves. We cannot have officials who break the law.
"Such scandals have no place in government and, whenever they happen, the people of the Eastern Cape must be rest assured that the department will decisively act," Gomba said.
"This is an embarrassment because officials in government are supposed to lead by example and not be the ones who break the law," the MEC said.
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