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Auditors confirm Mpumalanga expose

Published Sep 2, 2003

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Investigators who compiled a forensic report into Mpumalanga's health department not only vindicate The Star point for point, but also uncovered numerous other instances of dubious spending.

Findings include:

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- The Star pointed out that a catering firm, Loten Caterers, was paid R19 380 for the printing of manuals, even though the address on the invoice did not exist. Investigators found "numerous quotations... with sketchy contact details, no physical addresses, no landlines, and in some instances no contact telephone numbers".

- They also found quotations from suppliers "who ostensibly operate outside the province but do not appear to exist".

The report concludes that "there is a prima facie case of fraud against the parties involved".

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- The Star showed that more than R1-million had been paid to Chief Bhekumuzi Mnisi for Aids education programmes even though his charity, Tibuya Emasisweni, was unregistered and despite his apparent lack of knowledge on the subject.

The investigation found the amount was "clearly excessive" and "it appears that ultimately Chief MB Mnisi and his family are benefiting financially from the programme and not the community".

In addition, the R1,1-million was taken from funds allocated to home-based care of Aids patients.

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- The Star reported that part of the Aids budget was spent on Premier Soccer League matches and sports kits. The report confirms this.

- The Star reported that more than R2-million of the Aids budget was spent on drama. The report indicates there is a prima facie case of fraud against Alfred Mpofu, director of Ukhamba, the company which staged the dramas.

- The Star reported that the department also spent more than R2-million on the Mpumalanga Youth Commission, which received money for "youth bashes", "prayer days" and other events. The report confirms that about R1,5-million was given to the commission. Investigators are awaiting more documentation.

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- The Star reported that the department also funded a R58 275 weekend at a luxury game lodge for 20 traditional healers out of the Aids budget. The report confirms this and notes that the money was paid although the head of the department's Aids directorate, Charles Nkabinde, had refused to fund "such an activity".

- The Star reported that part of the budget for the programme to provide the anti-Aids drug Nevirapine to HIV-positive pregnant women was spent on television sets and video recorders.

Investigators found that money was allocated but not spent, and the Nevirapine budget was a shambles.

It states: "Although the drug Nevirapine has been provided for in the budget, albeit with excessive costing, it appears that nothing has been spent to date. Items such as furniture, television sets and video recorders, however, have been allocated to the conditional grant expenditure in respect of the aforementioned budget."

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