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Pretoria - Tshwane council Speaker Katlego Mathebe has been mired in controversy after allegations surfaced that her office unlawfully forked out a whopping R576 000 for catering at a late ANC councillor’s funeral.

The matter, which has baffled even the official opposition ANC, came to light during the ordinary council sitting last Thursday.

At the meeting, Mathebe’s office submitted a report detailing how it was forced to deviate from the Supply Chain Management Act when it procured services for funeral preparations.

Winterveldt ANC councillor Esther Matumane, who was afforded a civic funeral, died outside her home after being shot several times in September.

Senior ANC councillor Mapiti Matsena expressed shock at claims that the City parted with R500 000 to cover aspects of the funeral costs. “An amount of R576 000 is extremely high for procuring a service provider.”

The amount was probably spent on buying groceries for the bereaved family, given that civic funeral policies didn’t make provision for purchasing a coffin, he said.

The City hand-picked a service provider because it didn’t have a panel of service providers from which to choose one at a reasonable cost.

Matsena estimated that funeral costs should have been in the region of R200 000 if the City had obtained quotes from various service providers.

He called for a probe to be instituted into the alleged rot, saying exorbitant costs were unjustifiable.

Matsena, who was strategic executive head in the Speaker’s office when the ANC governed the City, said there had never been instances where funeral costs sky-rocketed to that amount.

High costs incurred by the City was despite the fact that there had been no groceries bought for the affected family on the eve of the funeral.

Matsena said corruption and fraud might have been committed when procuring services for the funeral of his late comrade.

“If we can go to the family of the deceased and disclose that close to R600 000 was spent on their daughter’s funeral, they would be surprised.

“They would say we should have instead given them at least R150 000 to give their daughter a proper burial,” Matsena said.

Mathebe concurred that an investigation ought to be undertaken by the chief audit executive into the procurement of services for the funeral.

Matsena suggested the probe outcome be submitted to the Municipal Public Accounts Committee for scrutiny. Should the investigation uncover wrongdoing, those implicated must be forced to pay back the money, he said.

Pretoria News