The Hawks on Wednesday arrested a seventh suspect in connection with the defrauding of the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA) of more than R53 million.
Hawks spokesperson Siyabulela Vukubi said the Bellville based Serious Corruption Investigation team arrested Mark Gabriel, 51, who made a brief court appearance in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud and theft.
He is joining co-accused, former SAHRA CEO Veliswa Baduza, 64, former SAHRA CFO Catherine Motsisi, 64, former SAHRA chairperson Fani Aaron Makhanya, 46, Anix Consulting CC chairperson Rhiyaan Cupido, 50, and his wife, Weedad Cupido, 46, a financial administrator at Anix together with their company who all appeared at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on October 11, facing charges of fraud, theft and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
“The six suspects including the company appeared for allegedly defrauding SAHRA of more than R53 million.
“They are arrested for allegedly duping SAHRA into paying their company over R53 million for work that was not of good quality,” Vukubi said.
It is reported that during the 2010/2011 financial year, the Department of Arts and Culture allocated funds to SAHRA for the implementation of a flagship project to commemorate and recognize the role played by South Africans both within the Republic of South Africa and outside borders.
As part of celebrating South Africa’s 20 years of democracy and centenary celebrations of the First World War, SAHRA undertook to rehabilitate burial sites of South African heroes. The project was to transform the landscape at Delville Wood Memorial and Museum in France.
The implementation of the project was scheduled to be completed within 12 months with effect from March 23, 2015 to April/May 2016.
The allocated budget was R20 million for the foreign graves project and R9,428 000 for the domestic grave project.
“The tender was awarded to Anix Consulting CC whose CEO was Mr Rhiyaan Cupido as a service provider, to design and implement graves project as well as to develop a detailed project plan with clear roles and responsibilities,” Vukubi said.
Between 2015 and 2017 the actual expenditure incurred for the upgrade of foreign and local graves ballooned to more than R54 million.
The matter was reported to the Hawks in July 2017 for investigation.
“During the investigation, it was established that the correct procurement processes were not followed,” Vukubi said.
Gabriel was granted R5 000 bail and the case was postponed until November 14 where he will be joined by his co-accused.