Threats to auditor-general’s staff increasing
Earlier this month Makwetu, who took office in December 2013 for a non-renewable seven-year term, recounted an incident at the Joburg offices of state-owned utility Rand Water, where its employees intimidated two of Makwetu’s staff members over their audit findings, and claimed that this would result in their not receiving bonuses.
Makwetu said the incident happened in August this year.
Last month, auditor-general staff were told they would require bodyguards to audit a drain cleaning tender awarded to a company that sub-contracted several small, medium and micro-sized enterprises.
In a chilling report of the incident, Makwetu states that no Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality official was willing to talk about the tender, and could not even identify the project manager responsible to help the deployed audit team.
“From the beginning of the audit, the team has had remarks made to them by metro officials. When they requested information about the tender, an official made a comment that they would require bodyguards if they wanted to audit that tender,” reads Makwetu’s report.
The contract was awarded in December last year and has been the subject of numerous reports linking large numbers of small business people and former councillors.
Makwetu found that the contract was also the subject of a possible material irregularity which his team has handed over to his office’s investigations business unit for further guidance.
Former Nelson Mandela Metro mayor Mongameli Bobani publicly promised small businesses R500 million in contracts earlier this year, according to the report.
A municipal official told the audit team that up to a dozen individuals with links to the contract had been killed, and that the small business owners constantly protested and congregated at the metro to demand the R500m that they believe they are entitled to after Bobani’s speech.
At one stage, the business people stormed the supply chain management unit at the metro armed with guns, and threatened officials.
Makwetu’s team was also told that municipality officials heard from the business people that they believed they were not getting the promised money because “the auditors are here”.
“In our opinion, this places a target on the audit team’s backs,” Makwetu declared.
The audit had to be conducted in East London, which is about 300km away.
Makwetu’s team has received counselling for the anxiety and fear that they have been subjected to at the Nelson Mandela Metro.