Disgraced former Gauteng local government and Housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi. File photo by Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - The Gauteng local government and housing Department spent R700 000 to upgrade the security and wall of the private home of its former political boss, the controversy-ridden Humphrey Mmemezi, because he deserved it.

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane endorsed the renovation and security upgrade.

This was the reply given on Tuesday by Mmemezi’s successor, Ntombi Mekgwe, to questions by DA local government and housing spokesman Fred Nel - who deemed it an “Nkandla Lite” scandal - in the provincial legislature.

Nel asked these questions after Auditor-General (A-G) Terence Nombembe found that the department had not followed proper procedures when it appointed Payless Projects to do the renovation at Mmemezi’s home in Krugersdorp.

The A-G also recommended that action should be taken against those involved. He also instructed the department to put measures in place to avoid further irregular appointments of service providers.

Despite the A-G’s report, Mekgwe indicated to the legislature that the project had had the premier’s full backing. No disciplinary action would be taken against officials in the department.

“The cost will not be recovered because it is part of a certain standard benefit which members of the executive council have if they choose.

“The office of the premier conducted an evaluation and vetting of the service provider [Payless Projects] and made the recommendation to the Department of Local Government and Housing.

“The department appointed the service provider on the basis of the recommendation of the Office of the Premier. So there was no wrongdoing on the part of the officials of the department,” said Mekgwe.

Mokonyane was not in the legislature when the reply was given, but her office confirmed that a security evaluation had been undertaken on Mmemezi and other executive council members’ homes.

Mokonyane’s spokesman, Thebe Mohatle, said a decision was taken to do this after an attempted break-in at one of the executive council member’s residences.

Mekgwe told the legislature that the Gauteng government had paid Payless Projects R759 062 for the upgrade.

“We had to build a wall around the house, install [an] electric fence, automated gates, CCTV cameras, intercom and alarm systems, a guard house and shatter-proof [glass] on windows,” Mekgwe said.

But Nel was outraged at Mekgwe’s response and characterised the expenditure as an “Nkandla Lite” scandal.

He said the money could have provided RDP houses to 10 families.

“Self-enrichment by abusing public money is becoming a trend among high-ranking ANC office-bearers who use public resources on their private properties.

“This is happening while the province has serious service delivery challenges due to rapid growth in its population.”

[email protected]

The Star