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Durban - The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has identified projects under the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Public Works to the value of R902 million in which dodgy tenders may have been awarded, but it has not been asked to investigate the R206m security upgrade at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.
SIU spokesman Boy Ndala said the unit was “watching” the probe by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela into Nkandla, but the matter didn’t fall “within the scope of our investigation into Public Works”.
This is despite an assurance by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi at a press conference in January to announce the findings of an internal investigation into the Nkandla upgrade that the department’s report would be referred to law enforcement agencies including the SIU.
Asked in Parliament this month whether the SIU had been issued a proclamation asking it to investigate the Nkandla scandal, Nxesi said it was up to Zuma.
The SIU does not initiate its own investigations and can act only on a proclamation by the president.
It received one last September to investigate fraud, corruption and maladministration in supply chain management processes of the KwaZulu-Natal Public Works department, according to an interim report tabled in Parliament this week.
The report said the SIU had analysed documents and identified possible irregularities to the value of R902m, including:
* Non-delivery in 37 projects amounting to R7.6m and involving six officials;
* Construction Industry Development Board fraud involving false representations to the board in order to win construction projects and the bribery of officials.
* The inflation of pre-tender estimates that led the department to award contracts at a possible loss of R2.5m.
* Fronting involving two firms that between them were awarded 70 projects to the value of R195.4m.
* Alleged corrupt payments to three provincial officials in the Ladysmith and southern regions. In a separate matter a case has been handed to the Pietermaritzburg commercial crime unit for criminal action.
* Variation orders exceeding 20 percent of the project in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
The SIU has also been investigating irregularities in the national Department of Public Works, focusing on leases, following the infamous police headquarter leasing scandal that led to the axing of then police commissioner Bheki Cele.
It has opened four criminal cases involving fraud, corruption and maladministration relating to 31 projects, including leases, capital projects and “prestige houses” – accommodation for members of the executive.
The total value of these projects was R733m.
Another eight cases have been referred to the prosecuting authority.
Earlier this week, the SIU announced it had recovered R181m in proceeds from irregular payments and maladministration since 2008.
Meanwhile, the DA said on Thursday its MPs on Parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence had walked out of a meeting where the Public Works Department’s report on Nkandla was tabled.
The party has called for the report to be referred to a committee that meets in public, instead of the intelligence committee, which is closed to the public and whose members are sworn to secrecy.
Independent on Saturday