Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s family support relative accused of taking from late struggle icon’s memorial funds
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Cape Town - The family of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela have voiced their support for Eastern Cape Public Works MEC Babalo Madikizela, named as one of the senior politicians who improperly benefited from funds meant for the struggle stalwart's memorial service.
An investigation by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Madikizela – who was then employed by the Eastern Cape provincial government – personally benefited to the amount of R350 000.
The Public Protector’s report, which was released late last week, also found that Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane personally benefited by R450 000, an amount used to renovate his house while he was MEC for economic development. In addition, Mkhwebane also found that the ANC benefited by R280 000.
This comes after Mkhwebane investigated a complaint lodged by Buffalo City metro resident Xolile Mashukuca, in July 2019, following a report in a local newspaper. The newspaper had reported on misappropriation of amounts totalling R2 million and R1m, with the alleged assistance of businessman Lonwabo Bam.
In her report, Mkhwebane said she found the allegations substantiated.
An amount of R3.3m was allocated for the memorial service, as well as other celebratory events to honour Madikizela-Mandela, in April 2018.
Madikizela-Mandela was born and raised in Bizana, which currently falls under Mbizana.
The Public Protector’s office said following the findings of the report – that there was criminal intent on the part of Mabuyane and his government colleagues, including contraventions of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act – it had referred the matter to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) for criminal investigation.
However, speaking to Independent Newspapers on Sunday, spokesperson for the Madikizela-Mandela family Thembelani Madikizela said processes to interdict the Public Protectors remedial actions would unfold in the coming days.
“We are shocked at the outcome of the report, but we are confident that the allegations levelled against some of the individuals will be tested.
“Babalo has said that he believed there were serious flaws in the report and we believe him,” Madikizela said.
He said that Madikizela disputed the findings and had informed the family of his intention to interdict the implementation of the remedial actions.
“We will support him. He is our son and he is a son of that municipality.
“We trust Babalo as a reasonable and sound person who aided in developing his community and province,” Madikizela said.
In her report, Mkhwebane also found municipal manager Luvuyo Mahlaka role in the matter constituted improper conduct.
The Public Protector said the investigation had “undeniably proven” that the nature of the allegations and complaints were largely of a criminal nature, and could not be executed fully by her office without bringing them to the attention of authorities charged with criminal investigation and prosecution.
Mkhwebane also ordered the speaker of the Mbizana Municipality to take urgent steps to ensure that the municipality took appropriate action, including the institution of disciplinary proceedings against municipal manager Luvuyo Mahlaka and any other official involved in connection with the procurement of transportation services for the memorial service, within 60 days of the issuing of the report.
Mabuyane’s spokesperson Sonwabo Mbananga said the premier stuck to his public statement on the matter.
“The premier maintains his public statement issued on the matter in 2019, and maintains his position that he was never involved in any acts of fraud or corruption. As a result, he has instructed his legal representatives to take the report on judicial review.”
Mbananga said Mabuyane remained “unwavering in his commitment to fight corruption and maladministration”, and remained focused on serving the people of the Eastern Cape.
The report revealed that Mabuyane personally benefited R450 000 from the amount of R1.1m, which was “certainly” public funds that went into the Nedbank account of Allan Morran Design Architectural Services to carry out renovations at his private house.
“Whereas Mr Mabuyane denied the knowledge of arrangements between Mr Bam and Mr Madikizela, evidence revealed that his wife, Siyasanga Mabuyane, advised the business owner of Allan Morran Design through an email that the deposit of R450 000 was to be used for renovations of their private house,” the report read.
Political analyst Ongama Mtimka commended the Public Protector on the work she did in verifying the nature of transactions through soliciting and subpoenaing bank statements.
Mtimka said that “it was nothing short of arrogance” for Madikizela and Mabuyane to use the Public Protectors credibility as cover for their actions.
“Her credibility is not the question here as the flow of money speaks for itself,” Mtimka said.
He did, however, say he was anxious about the Hawks handling the matter further.
He said Bam reported the allegations to the Hawks before taking it to the Public Protector, yet nothing was done and this was indicative of how politicians’ cases were handled.
“My biggest fear is to realise that we are governed by a gangster state with connections in police and investigations,” he said.’