Kimi Makwetu wants action against culprits behind threats to his auditors
Johannesburg - Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu wants people identified as being behind the threats and intimidation of his auditors to be hauled to the national legislature to account.
"I would suggest, maybe, it will be a good idea to pick three of them in different provinces and bring them here and then flash cameras in their faces and get them to explain to this committee why they think this thing they are alleged to have done must be tolerated," Makwetu said.
He was responding to a question when asked what he expected the standing committee on the auditor-general should do regarding the incidents of intimidation and threats to his staff.
"It does not matter what level they are, let them come here and you exercise your responsibility. When the rest of them who tend to do this and see that happening they will think twice before they even make a veiled suggestion of that kind," Makwetu said.
Briefing the committee earlier, Makwetu said his office experienced eight incidents of threats, intimidation and bribery during audit of municipalities this year.
There were seven instances of industrial action in municipalities that affected the audit process.
KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga have emerged as the hot-spots for the threats, intimidation and bribery made to the audit office.
Makwetu said threats and intimidation had been flagged in the prior years, but his office has now decided to engage the national legislature as matters arose during each audit cycle.
Makwetu noted that some people made suggestions that the audits by his office where costing them bonuses, although it has nothing to do with auditors.
At Rand Water auditors were intimidated by employees on audit findings and alleged that they were costing them their bonuses.
Makwetu also named a chief finance officer at Mpofana municipality in KwaZulu-Natal who offered an AG manager a bribe and the matter was reported to the police.
He also revealed that in Mpumalanga, at Victor Khanye Municipality, a municipal manager informed the audit tam that they might be kidnapped due to the audit findings on supply chain tenders.
In the Nelson Mandela Metro, threats of a newspaper article were left at the office used by the audit team, something the auditors interpreted as something directed at them.
Makwetu said they had to withdraw their staff and have a conversation with Nelson Mandela Metro leadership.
Arrangements were made to provide security for them to do their audit work and the matter was reported to the police.
Other incidents were reported by the audit teams in Msukaligwa Municipality in Mpumalanga, Buffalo City and Mhlontlo municipality Eastern Cape as well as Umfolozi Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.
MPs expressed outrage at the threats and intimidation made, with ANC's Sharome van Schalkwyk describing the incident as "totally unacceptable".
Committee chairperson Sakhumzi Somyo said there would be an increase in the incidents especially that there were recent amendments to the auditor general act empowering Makwetu to act on findings on material irregularities in the audit.
Somyo also said there should be a discussion with safety and security related entities on the possible heightened threats and attacks on Agsa auditors.
He said the committee would consider summoning those implicated to a sitting that would take a form of inquiry to set an example to others.
"Corruption thrives and instills fear in a number of ways where people who do good would be threatened and chased away to leave those who indulge and thrive in such an environment," Somyo said.