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Johannesburg - International relations director-general Jerry Matjila has been placed on special leave following allegations of irregular expenditure of more than R500 million in taxpayers' money, Beeld reported on Thursday.
According to confidential documents seen by Beeld, an internal audit found that R530m from the African Renaissance Fund (ARF) had been irregularly spent.
South Africa uses the ARF to fund humanitarian aid to mainly African states.
Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, requested an independent inquiry after the allegations came to light.
By Tuesday, Matjila had been placed on leave.
Clayson Monyela, spokesman for the department, said the leave would be indefinite to allow the conclusion of a thorough investigation.
Matjila allegedly ignored instructions from the Treasury to channel R250m from the UN World Food Programme to African states.
Instead, without the consent of the finance and international relations ministers, he allegedly personally selected two companies, gave them contracts to do work on behalf of the ARF in Africa, and paid them millions before any work had been done. - Sapa