Bloemfontein - The office of the Auditor General (AG) says its investigation into how the Free State provincial government spent close to R120 million meant for a new legislature complex before the start of the actual construction is being hampered by a lack of several crucial documents.
The AG’s business executive responsible for investigations Aletta van Tromp told a joint Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts and Finance and that of Infrastructure and Economic Development which sat on Wednesday in Bloemfontein that they would not be able to finalise their work within four months as initially agreed.
The AG’s office was requested by the Free State Treasury Department to conduct a special audit of the supply chain management processes and financial transactions relating to the proposed legislature on the Ramkraal premises for the period between 2010 and 2014.
The Free State Institute of Architects was also asked to conduct a value-for-money assessment of the Ramkraal premises project.
“There is a list of documents that we don't have,” said Van Tromp during her presentation.
“The initial agreement was that we should complete our investigation within four months. About 99 percent of the invoices we got refer to non-tangible things and these are very difficult to verify... In some cases there are not invoices. We now hope to get it done by end of September. Mid-September the earliest,” she added.
This however was not well received by most opposition members in the joint sitting who felt efforts to bring those who might have misused the funds to account were being stifled. The reports were expected to be done by April.
Kgotso Morapela from the Economic Freedom Fighters felt the process was moving too slow and could soon be overtaken by events like what has happened with other investigations started by the provincial government in the past.
“We are not being useful. Always overtaken by events,” he told the meeting.
David van Vuuren from the DA shared the same view and suggested that it was also important to find out from the relevant people why so much documentation was left out.
“We can't say it's deliberate because we don't know but it's important to find out,” said Van Vuuren.
The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Public Accounts Neels van Rooyen who chaired the meeting said the provincial Public Works Department, the Legislature and the Free State Institute of Architects which were also expected to present their reports were not yet ready.
The Institute of Architects is said to have indicated it will be done by August.
The Ramkraal Prison was registered as a National Heritage Site on July 13, 1990. It is reported that several liberation struggle activists kept there. The buildings were however not well-maintained for some time and by 2012, homeless people had occupied it. It was at that time the Free State provincial government proposed to build a new legislature and turn the prison into a museum and kick-out the illegal occupants.
It is however not clear if proper procedures were followed when the provincial government acquired the place, hence National Monuments Council is also expected to present a report.