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Special Investigating Unit looking for more bite

MOGAU PHALA

THE Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is courting the Presidency for more teeth as more entities continue to ignore its findings and recommendations.

Lekhoa Mothibi

“In cases of disciplinary referrals, we have noticed that there is a gap in ensuring that they are implemented. We are putting in place measures to ensure that those referrals are monitored. We have signed a memorandum of understanding between ourselves and the Presidency and that memorandum will monitor that the recommendations are implemented,” SIU head Lekhoa Mothibi said.

“We expect that those mechanisms give us the outcomes that we deserve. If we find that the referrals are not acted upon, we will know why the actions were not taken against the responsible individuals. We should be able to make a successful step forward after a breakthrough, not a step back,” Mothibi said.

He was speaking at a recent stakeholder engagement forum in Polokwane, Limpopo, where he also revealed that corruption was on the increase especially in the awarding of government tenders. There was a high number of cases in which contractors fail to complete the work, he said.

The entities with a high number of irregular awarding of tenders were municipalities and the SIU has now cultivated a closer relationship with different institutions such as the National Prosecuting Authority and SAPS to produce positive results.

He lamented the fact that there was lack of cooperation which pushes the SIU to come up with alternative ways to get the information required.

“Once we investigate and we pick up any irregularities in contracts awarded, we approach the court to set the contract aside and also recover the assets and money to prevent future losses. We have the power to search and seize,” Mothibi said.

Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha acknowledged that municipalities were rocked by seemingly irregular tendencies.

“Most investigations in the province are focused on municipalities and we urge the SIU to speed up the investigations. When all is said and done we want the money of our people back, because that money should be used on what is designed to do, nothing less.

“Assets that have been accrued from criminality must be recovered,” Mathabatha said.

In an apparent apportioning of blame on the previous administration under Cassel Mathale, Mathabatha said it took the province two years to recover from the mess caused by the departments which were put under national administration. He said the provincial government almost collapsed due to maladministration with R2.7 billion recorded on unauthorised expenditure.

“The gravity of the situation was that the hospitals were without medication and food, schools were without text books, and public servants were faced with real possibility of not getting their salaries. Although the province encountered challenges, we were able to make savings”.

He further added that most roads across the province remain incomplete as contractors vanished with the money without finishing their work. “When we took over administration, we inherited bermuda roads, because those who were supposed to do constructions of these roads took the money and disappeared.”

Mathabatha further added that for the past four months, the provincial government managed to save R1 billion. The savings were done through the cutting down on unnecessary expenditure.

However, reports by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) and the Auditor General show that there have been a string of irregular expenditures and other violations of supply chain policies during the 2015/16 financial year which resulted in the current administration failing to obtain a single clean audit.

Recent SIU successes in Limpopo

Vhembe District Municipality: investigated for misappropriation of funds and the incurrence of wasteful expenditure in relation to payments made to contractors by the municipality.

Outcomes:

  • Three 0fficials were referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for criminal prosecution.
  • Disciplinary action was referred against eight officials of the municipality.

Greater Tubatse Local Municipality: investigated for fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred by the municipality through a settlement paid to Phambili Network Skills.

Outcomes:

  • One official was referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for criminal prosecution.
  • Disciplinary action was referred against one official of the municipality.
  • Three lawyers were referred to the Law Society of South Africa.

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