Nelson Mandela’s final resting place in the Eastern Cape.
Nelson Mandela’s final resting place in the Eastern Cape.

Mass plunder of state funds for Tata's burial

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Dec 5, 2017

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PUBLIC protector Busi Mkhwebane yesterday said a probe by her office had unearthed evidence of massive inflation of prices, misappropriation of funds and poor planning by the government during the memorial and funeral services of Nelson Mandela.

“As far as the poor planning is concerned, it is very scary. It is very concerning. You find an e-mail being sent to the Eastern Cape Development Corporation telling it to pay R11million by 11 o’clock and the documents will follow.

“You find a company that has produced T-shirts (bidding farewell to the revered statesman), but they are not delivered.

“You find that the person who signed for the T-shirts is not even an employee of the municipality,” Mkhwebane told a press briefing in Pretoria.

“When forensic investigations were done, they found that the person who signed up (procured) for the T-shirts, actually works for the supplier.

“Then the suppliers say 'I delivered the T-shirts, I didn’t find anyone and I dropped off the T-shirts at the taxi rank'. Some venues were organised but no people came forth.”

Mkhwebane said the levels of plunder around the level-one state funeral were deeply disheartening.

“It is very concerning that we can use a funeral to do such things.

“Even if it were officials who did this, even members of the public, even the very same service providers - how do you escalate prices or even send an invoice for something you have not delivered?” asked Mkhwebane.

In some instances, it has been proven that members of the ANC were giving instructions to government officials to “just pay without any documents”, she said.

“How do you charge R350 for a T-shirt? That is exorbitant. Members of the public, service providers - where is your conscience? Charging the state so much money for a T-shirt or for transportation?

“This was a funeral of a (former) head of state and was supposed to be handled by national (authorities).

“In this instance, they said because the former head of state wanted to be buried in Qunu, therefore Eastern Cape province should make the arrangements but then that process was not co-ordinated,” said Mkhwebane.

“If these state funerals are co-ordinated by National Treasury, it makes sure that Treasury prescripts are complied with. There is a list of service providers in the database.

“Some quotations were acquired over the phone, or people were told over the phone - pay so and so or transfer so much to somebody.

“How do you pay R10 or R11million without receiving any supporting documents?” Mkhwebane asked.

She has instructed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to initiate Special Investigating Unit investigations into unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money used during the 2013 funeral and memorial services for Mandela.

“The allegations that the Eastern Cape provincial government improperly diverted funds amounting to R300m appropriated to the Eastern Cape Development Corporation for the acceleration of social infrastructure development to be used for the funeral of president Mandela is substantiated,” said Mkhwebane.

“The head of department of provincial planning and treasury, Ms Mbina-Mthembu, recommended to the Eastern Cape provincial exco on December 6, 2013, that funds appropriated to Eastern Cape Development Corporation should be used for the funeral of president Mandela. Her advice to the provincial exco was based on Treasury Regulation 6.1.3.

However, Mkhwebane found that Treasury Regulation 6.1.3 was not applicable in the matter.

“Neither the board of the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, as the accounting authority, nor the head of the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the Eastern Cape, was involved in Ms Mbina-Mthembu’s decision to propose the variation of funds appropriated for social infrastructure development, for the purposes of the expenditure to be incurred for president Mandela's funeral,” said Mkhwebane.

She also instructed Gigaba to request President Jacob Zuma to issue a proclamation in terms of section 21 of the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act of 1996 to investigate the unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money and property, unlawful irregular or unapproved acquisitive acts, transactions, measures and practices.

That investigation will also probe “intentional or negligent loss of public money by organs of state referred to in this report” with a view to institute civil action for the recovery of the loss of public money by the organs of state in the procurement of goods and services for Madiba’s funeral.

Mandela died on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95 after suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection. He died at around 8.50pm local time at his home in Houghton, surrounded by his family.

South Africa observed a national mourning period of 10 days. During this time numerous memorial services were conducted across the country. The official memorial service was held at FNB Stadium on December 10.

Mandela's body lay in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria from December 11 to 13.

A state funeral was held on December 15, 2013, in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where his body was buried. - ANA

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