Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)
Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

Beitbridge border fence scandal: Names of officials implicated yet to be released

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Dec 1, 2020

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Cape Town - The 14 officials implicated in the Beitbridge border post fence tender irregularities are set to be named once they have been served with disciplinary charges.

This was the vow made by Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille while responding to parliamentary questions from EFF MP Mathapelo Siwisa.

“Once the final charge sheet is served, the names will be provided. All the affected employees will be subjected to disciplinary hearings. The process has already commenced,” De Lille said.

Siwisa had enquired about the names of the officials found wanting over irregular activities in the handling of the Beitbridge project.

She also sought to establish what steps De Lille had taken to hold the officials accountable.

In March, the minister issued a directive to the department to appoint a service provider to use an emergency procurement process to erect the border fence at the Beitbridge border.

However, an investigation found that the fence cost R40.4 million, which consisted of a R37.1m payment to the contractor and R3.25m to a professional agent.

It was overpriced by R14m and may have been exceeded by R17m.

The investigation also revealed a series of procurement and other irregularities, including R21.8m upfront payment to the contractor and R1.8m to the principal-agent when construction had not started.

The department was found to have failed to test the market to determine the reasonable contractor and pricing.

The report recommended that the department lay criminal charges against the contractor and principal-agent and identified officials for misrepresentation to justify payments.

The department told the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that 14 officials would be hauled before disciplinary hearings, and the awarded contract be set aside in the Special Investigating Unit Special Tribunal.

In September, Scopa called for urgent consequence management against those implicated in wrongdoing after a site visit at Beitbridge.

“Consequence management against all implicated officials is carried out with adequate sanctions,” it said in its report to National Assembly.

In her written response, De Lille maintained that the principles of natural justice demand that officials implicated in misconduct be given an opportunity to give their side of the story against allegations levelled against them.

The minister also said the exercise had been assigned to the Office of the State Attorney.

De Lille said the provisional charges were served on the implicated officials on October 5 and the officials were given seven working days to provide the department with the written representations as to why they should not be formally charged with misconduct.

She said that the officials have already made written representations to the department.

Political Bureau

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