President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The bursary awarded to former North West premier and current tourism ­parliamentary committee chairperson Supra Mahumapelo’s son is among the alleged irregularities that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investigating at state arms manufacturer Denel.

The probe, ordered by President Cyril Ramaphosa in a Government Gazette published last Friday, comes hot on the heels of the state-owned enterprise (SOE) recently battling to pay workers. It look a lender to come to the rescue of the workforce of the state company.

In his proclamation, the president said allegations had been made in respect of the affairs of Denel and business divisions in which the arms manufacturer was a majority shareholder.

“Denel or the state suffered losses that may be recovered. I hereby refer the matters mentioned in the schedule, in respect of Denel, for investigation to the SIU,” Ramaphosa said.

The terms of reference for the probe cover serious maladministration, conduct by employees of Denel and unlawful expenditure of public money.

They also extend to offences ­covered in the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

Ramaphosa said the SIU should “exercise or perform all functions and powers conferred upon the SIU by the act, including recovery of any losses suffered by Denel or the state”.

The awarding of bursaries by Denel top the matters to be probed, along with the procurement of steel fabrication services and steel-fabricated goods, as well as legal services.

Also to be investigated is procurement of services to develop a white paper relating to the validity of advance payment of bank guarantees on all contracts entered into by Denel and the Armaments Corporation of South Africa, among others.

The proclamation comes nearly a year after Denel made headlines when it was reported that it improperly awarded a R1.1-million bursary agreement to Mahumapelo’s son, Oarabile.

The SOE initially denied the bursary was awarded improperly, saying “these allegations are false”, and the “bursary awarded was made to three students based on the same criteria and/or considerations”.

In December 2018, Denel’s chairperson of the audit committee, Talib Sadik, said the arms manufacturer had terminated Mahumapelo’s bursary agreement after an investigation.

The probe had found that the school where Mahumapelo was studying to be a pilot was not an institution approved by Denel; that the pilot bursaries were not advertised in terms of Denel’s bursary policy; and that the bursary was granted without following the proper selection process.

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa also ordered an investigation into the affairs of the North West Development Corporation dating back to January 2015. The probe will cover procurement of goods or services and payments made as well as unauthorised, irregular and wasteful expenditure.

In another development, Ramaphosa also authorised the investigative body to look into the affairs of the Water and Sanitation Department dating back to 2016.

He wants an investigation conducted into the appointment of a service provider hired by the department for 18 months to render services for emergency upgrading of the Thukela- Goedertrouw Transfer Scheme.

The SIU will also probe the appointment of a service provider by Lepelle Northern Water to render engineering consulting services in the raising of the Tzaneen Dam.

Ramaphosa also authorised investigations into the affairs of the Department of Justice and Independent Development Trust dating back to October 2007. The probe will focus on the construction of several courts and the acquisition of land for the Mpumalanga High Court, the number of courtrooms built in Plettenberg Bay Magistrate’s Court and procurement of courtroom furniture and services.

Political Bureau