Massive corruption in Tshwane exposed

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Evidence of a long list of fraud, corruption, tender-rigging, kickbacks, irregular appointments and other cases of wrongdoing has been uncovered by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) at municipalities nationwide, but it seems none of these is quite as rotten as the Tshwane Metro.

President Jacob Zuma authorised the SIU to investigate allegations of “financial mismanagement, human resource irregularities, and non-compliance with internal processes” at the Tshwane Metro in December 2010.

Initially, the SIU unmasked 65 municipal officials with interests in 66 companies doing R185 million worth of business with the municipality.

Because of limited resources, the SIU has prioritised the taking of disciplinary steps against only nine officials whose companies were paid more than R1m each.

It has emerged, however, that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

When it compared the municipality’s payroll database with that of the Department of Home Affairs, the SIU found that 3 778 city officials were registered to receive social grants.

Only 93 have admitted their wrongdoing and are paying the money back. The SIU is assisting the municipality to prepare charge sheets against the others.

Perhaps the most worrying finding is that 104 metro police officers with criminal records are roaming the capital’s streets.

Forty-five of these officers “have been convicted of serious criminal offences, including murder and rape”, while 18 are awaiting trial.

The SIU uncovered 212 instances of fraudulently obtained driving licences. Of these 87 have been referred for cancellation.

Criminal cases are pending for 10 of these officials and disciplinary hearings await the others.

Officials were also found to have entered into a bus lease agreement that cost the municipality R40 000 a month.

The municipality’s bid committee had recommended another service provider, who would have charged R19 000 a month.

As a result, the municipality incurred extra costs in excess of R70m.

The SIU will be “recommending disciplinary action against seven senior officials”.

Other findings included:

* Officials overspent R2.8m on a R7.9m “asset verification contract” without the required authorisation.

* Eight officials have more than one ID number; 11 are using ID numbers that do not exist on the Home Affairs database; 13 are using the ID numbers of people who have died; 15 are using ID numbers linked to a third party; and, in one instance, the SIU found six unrelated officials whose salaries were being paid into the same bank account.

More than 1 300 people appeared in court over the six months to September 31 last year on charges relating to social grant fraud. Tshwane metro police officers were found on the job despite having criminal records for rape and murder.

Dozens of government officials are coining it in business with the state.

Thousands of city officials are fraudulently claiming social grants.

As part of its investigation into grant fraud - which began in 2005 - the SIU successfully prosecuted 1 178 fraudsters last year. It also prepared disciplinary cases against 823 government officials and obtained written undertakings from 2 947 people for the repayment of R34 million in grants they obtained illegally.

These are just some of the findings given in the SIU’s interim progress report for the period April 1 to September 31 last year, and tabled in Parliament last week.

The SIU - popularly known as the Cobras - said these steps had saved the government about R6.9m, with potential further savings of R116m.

The SIU investigates corruption and maladministration in government.

It specialises in complex forensic investigations, but probes only matters referred to it by presidential proclamation. It is tasked with 21 proclamations, involving departments at local, provincial and national level as well as state-owned entities and enterprises.

An investigation into the Department of Arts and Culture has found that officials incurred R41.7m in unauthorised expenditure by shifting funds meant for World Cup projects to “unrelated purposes”.

The same probe uncovered a further R4.5m in unauthorised payments, R5.4m in irregular expenditure and R150 000 in fruitless and wasteful expenditure relating to the department’s investing in culture projects.

As a result of this probe, the government has withheld R8.4m in payments to service providers, recovered R351 000 and cancelled two contracts.

An investigation into 41 lease agreements at the Department of Public Works - already stained by claims of widespread fraud and corruption - has uncovered “numerous irregularities”.

These include “overpayment; incomplete lease agreements; (and) lease agreements signed before bid committee approval”.

“Evidence has been obtained by the SIU which indicates that Public Works officials colluded with service providers…

“Leases were irregularly awarded to such service providers in return for significant financial compensation being paid to the officials,” the report states.

In one case, the SIU found 27 leases involving about R325m were awarded to a single service provider, with two Public Works officials being paid R4m in kickbacks. The SIU has recommended that all 27 of these leases be cancelled and the cases referred for criminal investigation.

Four other Public Works officials face disciplinary action for failing to declare interests in companies doing business with the department. - Political Bureau


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