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Johannesburg - It was “hard to believe” that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa was ignorant about the origins of the funds used to build a security wall around his home, the DA said on Friday.
Democratic Alliance police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler-Barnard said Auditor General Terence Nombembe's finding that there was no evidence to suggest Mthethwa knew where the money was coming from was “impossible”.
“I find it hard to believe that there is no evidence to suggest that Minister Mthethwa did not know what was going on at his own house; did not know that a wall was being built around it and did not ask who was footing the bill,” she said
Nombembe said he had found that secret service funds were used to pay for the renovations.
However, there was no evidence that Mthethwa was aware of the source and was therefore not implicated in a policy breach.
The findings were released three months after Mthethwa asked the AG to probe press reports that R200 000 from the slush fund was used to pay for the wall around his home in KwaZulu-Natal.
Kohler-Barnard said the matter raised serious questions, such as whether Mthethwa made enquiries as to whether state funds were used to build the wall when the matter first made the news.
Also: “Who he thought was paying for the renovations at his home... (and) if the Minister did not arrange for public funds to be used to pay for the wall, who did?”
She said recent “chaos” in the crime intelligence service had eroded the public's confidence in the police.
The DA said the person responsible for ordering that state funds be used to pay for Mthethwa's wall should be held accountable.
“Meanwhile, the DA expects the minister to do the right thing and immediately pay for the wall out of his exceedingly deep ministerial pocket,” Kohler-Barnard said.
Nombembe said he could also not find any evidence that Mthethwa gave instructions to conduct a risk assessment at his home, or that he was involved in the eventual process.
He called for better oversight by the minister, to prevent any future abuses escaping his attention.
“As a result of the minister not being aware of the activities of the (SA Police Service's) crime intelligence, our recommendation is, amongst others, that the monitoring and accountability practices between the department and the minister be strengthened, and that timely action is taken in instances of non-compliance should this occur again.”
According to media reports, the fund was also used pay for a Mercedes-Benz for the minister.
Nombembe said he was not presented with any evidence linking the minister to the car.
Mthethwa welcomed the findings and said he felt vindicated.
“While I noted with concern the continued innuendoes of corruption levelled against me and my name being dragged in the mud, I nevertheless allowed the Auditor General to conduct the investigation,” he said.
“Today, I feel vindicated, because the truth has been confirmed.”
Mthethwa's spokesman Zweli Mnisi said the risk assessment at the minister's home had been undertaken by the police “as they would do with each and every executive authority”.
Mthethwa had acted on the understanding that it was normal for the government to pay for certain security measures and he had expected that those who conducted the risk assessment would follow proper procedures.
“He had an understanding that in terms of the ministerial handbook and other legislative frameworks such as the PFMA (Public Finance Management Act) some security measures to his private residence might be taken care of by the state,” Mnisi said.
“As the minister does not get involved in day-to-day operational matters, he therefore expected any official(s) who carries through their operations and responsibilities, would follow due process and procedures.”
The minister would support disciplinary steps against any official found to have breached finance management rules, Mnisi said. - Sapa