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Taxpayers footed bill for Pule’s lavish trips

Former minister of communications Dina Pule. Picture: Adrian de Kock

Former minister of communications Dina Pule. Picture: Adrian de Kock

Published Aug 9, 2013



Expensive flights, shopping sprees and five-star hotel stays in at least five European, North and South American cities within a month marked former communications minister Dina Pule’s affair with Phosane Mngqibisa, funded by public money.

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Pule and Mngqibisa visited various cities including Paris, Prague, Mexico City and Kuala Lumpur between June and July 2011.

In the US, for example, they slept, dined and wined at the five-star Ritz Carlton hotel in New York City.

ANC MP Ben Turok, the joint chairman of the committee that investigated Pule, was threatened with harm during the inquiry into her conduct.

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These are some of the details contained in the report of a multiparty ethics and members’ interest committee that found Pule guilty of misconduct this week.

She was also condemned for having “wilfully” misled MPs about her romantic relationship with Mngqibisa.

On Thursday, ANC chief whip Stone Sizani commended the committee for “extensively probing” the allegations against Pule and reporting “comprehensively” to Parliament.

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“We also commend the former minister for subjecting herself to the authority of the committee and using the opportunity to present her side of the story.

“The ANC will never condone any act of ill-discipline, misconduct and impropriety,” said Sizani.

The report shows how Mngqibisa’s company, Khemano, benefited to the tune of R6 million from Pule’s former department, with plans for him to cash in from future departmental projects.

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He pocketed the R6m after apparently rendering services to a company contracted by the department to organise the ICT Indaba in Cape Town.

The committee’s report also showed that Pule and Mngqibisa were romantically involved, in spite of Pule’s denials. Pule had told the inquiry that she was able to “unequivocally state that I have not registered Mr Mngqibisa as a permanent companion for the purposes of travel or any other benefits with the department”.

The report, however, states that Mngqibisa and Pule travelled together to various destinations at which they shared hotel accommodation. The findings were supported by documentary proof.

A submission of slips for a meal in Prague, for example, confirmed that Pule had travelled with Mngqibisa as her “partner” in 2011.

“Pule and Mngqibisa shared accommodation at the Prague Marriot Hotel and were hosted by (Sandra) Botha, ambassador to the Czech Republic,” reads the report. It further notes how Mngqibisa and Pule’s former assistant, Tsakane Mahlaule, travelled together to Paris, “where they rested and shopped”.

The panel also had in its possession travel forms which reflect that Pule, in 2009, travelled with Mngqibisa to Monterrey, Mexico, and that the department paid for the trip. - Cape Times

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