DA asks protector to probe funeral

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Bloemfontein - The public protector has been asked to investigate the “excessive” expenditure on former Free State health MEC Fezi Ngubentombi's funeral, the DA said on Wednesday.

“More than R9 million was spent on the funeral proceedings of which more than R6 million remains outstanding,” Free State Democratic Alliance caucus leader Roy Jankielsohn said in a statement.

“The Fezile Dabi district municipality's financial statements show an outstanding amount of R6,269,539 as recoverable expenses incurred for the funeral that would be paid back by five service providers.”

He said a Companies and Intellectual Property Commission search could not confirm whether these companies actually existed.

“The municipality is under the false impression that this money would be recovered from the provincial government.”

Jankielsohn said he asked premier Ace Magashule last year which department was responsible for the costs, whether the municipality would be reimbursed, and when payment would be made.

Magashule in his reply said the provincial public works department was responsible.

The department was not immediately available for comment.

Replying to a separate written question, public works MEC Sam Mashinini said the department was not aware of any commitment made to the Fezile Dabi district municipality for the costs incurred.

“MEC Mashinini stated that the department incurred costs amounting to R2,347,035 for VIP tents, catering and equipment hire, and an additional R103,001 for condolences advertisements,” he said.

The provincial legislature made provision for R15,000 towards funeral expenses. The public office bearers' pension fund made provision for a further R36,000 for legislature members should they die in office.

“The inflated costs incurred amounts to blatant abuse of taxpayer money for party political reasons,” Jankielsohn said.

“Almost two years after the funeral of the late MEC Ngubentombi, nobody at provincial or local government level is prepared to take ownership of this exorbitant expenditure.”

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