Watch: PP says charge #MandelaFuneral fraud accused

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has pointed a finger at senior Eastern Cape officials including director general Marion Mbina-Mthembu for misuse of millions of rands earmarked for the funeral arrangements of the late statesman Nelson Mandela.

Also listed in the report are Buffalo City Metro councillors Sindiswa Gomba, Luleka Simon-Ndzele, chief financial officer Vincent Pillay, as well as former mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, for their role in the misuse of almost R6-million provided for the memorial funeral arrangements.

Mkhwebane now wants President Jacob Zuma to make a proclamation that the Special Investigating Unit – the Hawks – investigate all those implicated and charge them so that taxpayers’ money can be recovered.

>http://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2014/03/03/madiba-spending-frenzy-blown-open/

In another case, Mkhwebane pointed at a company, Reagola Print and Mail, for having “unilaterally changed the order and only supplied T-shirts, the number of which could not be established with certainty”.

“It even went so far as to sign for delivery and to submit another invoice for the outstanding payment of more than R1.9-million after the funeral, without disclosing that it had changed the order and delivered T-shirts after the funeral to taxi ranks and other places.

>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTDJNrbx8y8

“The evidence indicates that the conduct of Reagola Print and Mail may constitute a criminal offence that should be referred to the National Prosecuting Authority.”

Troubles at the East Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) started after the premier Phumulo Masualle-led executive made a controversial decision in October 2013 to channel more than R330-million into the ECDC, making the entity solely responsible to fund all preparations for Mandela’s funeral that year.

Mkhwebane said Mbina-Mthembu “misdirected the Eastern Cape Provincial Exco in this regard. Her proposal was irrational and unlawful. This resulted in an irrational decision by the former Eastern Cape provincial Exco that culminated in an expenditure by the ECDC that was unauthorised as contemplated by the PFMA . The funds were never voted for purposes that they were used for.”

The public protector also blames former acting chief financial officer of the ECDC, Sandile Sentwa, for violating the PFMA, saying: “As the CFO, he should have been aware that the payments were made in violation of the PFMA and the Treasury regulations…When a reconciliation was eventually done, the ECDC had lost more than R22-million that was originally appropriated to them to accelerate social infrastructure development in the Eastern Cape. Money intended to alleviate the plight of the poorest of the poor was accordingly spent on a state funeral,” she said.

Asked for comment, Sentwa said: “ECDC did not procure anything but was paymaster on Treasury instruction. A recommendation to put controls in procurement does not therefore appear to be right.”

The Dispatch reported several times about how money earmarked for service delivery was subsequently used to buy T-shirts and food for mourners in municipalities such as BCM, King Sabata Dalindyebo and OR Tambo district.

This led to the arrest of Ncitha, Gomba, Simon-Ndzele, the suspended ANC Dr WB Rubusana regional secretary Pumlani Mkolo, and local business people Dean Fanoe and Viwe Vazi. The case against them, for their alleged involvement in the misuse of almost R6-million, is ongoing.

Mkhwebane said : “The allegation that the BCM improperly procured the services of, and paid Victory Ticket 750cc an amount of R5985000 of public funds to transport mourners to four venues where the memorial services of president Mandela were to be held, is substantiated.

“The executive mayor and councillors Gomba and Simon-Ndzele of the BCM municipal council acted in violation of the Code of Conduct for Councillors by putting the interests of the ANC, instead of that of the BCM, first. They acted dishonestly, without good faith and in a manner that compromised the integrity of the BCM. The CFO of the BCM, Mr V Pillay failed to distinguish between financial matters of the BCM and the interests of the ANC. He acted in violation of the provisions,” the report also reads.

Ncitha declined to comment, saying she had not seen the report yet.

Speaking on behalf of the provincial government, Sonwabo Mbananga said they could only comment once they got a copy of the report. — Additional reporting by Bongo Jacob

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