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Criminal charges should be laid against a Limpopo education official for reportedly paying a service provider R2 million a month more than tendered, the DA said on Friday.
“The (head of) of Limpopo's provincial education department must be criminally charged for signing off R2 million a month excess payments to an engineering company contracted to manage its multi-billion (rand) school infrastructure projects,” said Langa Bodlani, DA Limpopo spokesman.
If nobody else brought charges, the DA might do so itself, Bodlani said.
According to a report in The Star, Aurecon JV – a consulting engineers joint venture that was awarded an almost R100 million project management contract in September 2010 – was paid more than it was entitled to between April and October last year.
The department reportedly outsourced its project management duties to Aurecon, in effect giving it control of school infrastructure contracts for three years.
The firm had the power to design, manage, and implement projects in the province and help adjudicate and award tenders.
The Star reported that according to documents it had seen, the department also extended Aurecon JV's three-year contract by six months.
Aurecon spokesman Ronnie Khoza denied any wrongdoing by the company.
The Mail & Guardian reported that according to a confidential affidavit by a Gobodo forensic auditor investigating on behalf of the Treasury, there was a “significant deviation” from the tender initially entered into with Aurecon JV.
These allegations are reportedly contained in a dossier compiled by the Special Investigations Unit looking into alleged irregularities in textbook and other educational tenders in Limpopo.
Textbooks for some grades were delivered seven months late in the province, only after the NGO, Section 27, obtained a court order with a deadline forcing government to act.
The DA said in terms of the Public Finances Management Act, the head of department was the accounting officer for the department and had a responsibility to ensure financial prudency.
“Under Chapter 10 of the act, if the accounting officer fails to execute this responsibility, he is 'guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years',” Bodlani said. – Sapa