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Tourism KZN officials fired for alleged tender fraud

File picture: Independent Media

File picture: Independent Media

Published Oct 26, 2021

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DURBAN - TOURISM KZN has fired two employees in its supply chain management (SCM) unit for allegations of tender fraud.

The duo are alleged to have defrauded the entity of R500 000. The details of the alleged fraud were not immediately available yesterday but it was said they involved cover quoting.

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Cover quoting is the manipulation of the mandatory three-quote procurement system by a departmental official acting in collusion with a supplier, whereby multiple quotations are submitted as if they were independent quotes. The employees, it seemed, were found out between 2019-20 as the report on the matter showed an investigation had been conducted in this period.

The entity made the revelations while delivering its auditor-general’s audit outcome for the 2020-21 financial year. Making its presentation before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, it revealed that while it had opened a criminal case against the concerned officials, they had received no joy from the SAPS with taking the case forward.

Chief financial officer Lindani Sidaki told the committee there were disciplinary actions against an SCM officer and SCM practitioner for fraud.

“Upon investigation, poor contract management was also identified by the supply chain team, the disciplinary process resulted in dismissal and a case being opened with the SAPS,” he said.

“We have been following up with members of the SAPS commercial crimes, and we are not getting much joy in this one.”

The head of Scopa, Maggie Govender, commended the entity for acting against employees that have been found to have been implicated in wrongdoing.

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She said Tourism KZN had incurred a lot of irregular expenditure estimated at R8.1 million, and most of it was incurred as a result of failure to follow processes like ensuring that there is competitive bidding for tenders, which is meant to ensure that the government received value for money on the goods and services it procured.

“We have to commend the department for acting by bringing people to book. This also sends a message to other employees that you cannot get away with wrongdoing,” she said.

Govender said she understood the department’s frustrations with the slow progress of the case.

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She said when they have reported a case to the police, they could be frustrated by having to wait for the case to be finalised, especially where they have to institute recoveries against the individuals involved, as not acting quickly could lead to government money being lost.

But, she said, the police were in the same predicament as they were duty-bound to conduct a thorough investigation.

Govender, who also chairs a committee that monitors the progress of the implementation of forensic investigations in the department, said the committee had noticed marked improvement in the implementation of forensic investigations, saying departments were reporting that they were disciplining people found to have been implicated in wrongdoing.

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DA committee member Heinz de Boer said there were few cases that ended with criminal consequences for those involved.

He said some of the cases were difficult for the SAPS to investigate, difficult to prosecute and required a lot of experts.

De Boer said the image of corruption in government unfairly maligned many hard-working people.

“There are many hard-working people in government who are unfortunately tainted with the same brush.”

THE MERCURY

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