Cape Town 110608 . Virginia Petersen , Director-General at the Premier's department . Picture Mlandeli Puzi

Johannesburg - The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) reportedly spent more than R10 million rand on bodyguards for top personnel - with questions raised on how the contract was awarded, according to the Sunday Times.

The newspaper reported that R2.9 million was spent on “close protection services for Sassa chief executive Virginia Petersen and Renay Ogle, the agency's fraud management and compliance general manager.

A further R1,1 million “for close protection services” for social development spokeswoman Lumka Oliphant and her family was also spent.

The contracts for protection were given to a company Vuco Security Solutions, based in Kwa-Mashu in Durban.

The Sunday Times reported that most of the contracts appeared to have bypassed normal procurement rules.

Oliphant told the newspaper that if a bodyguard was needed urgently, the situation was treated as an emergency and a tender would not be issued.

Oliphant said Petersen - who had a death threat made against her whereby a subsequent arrest was made - needed protection because she was unravelling corruption at the agency.

Further expenses Vuco charged for reportedly included R45,000 for erecting a fence, R17,000 for building a toilet as well as charges for buying rifles, pistols and night-vision binoculars.

Vuco boss Wayne Ndlovu told the newspaper to “speak to Sassa” when asked for comment, before apparently slamming down the phone. - Sapa