The looting of public funds during preparations for Mandela’s funeral has been revealed in a report by the Public Protector. File picture: GCIS
Johannesburg - A senior ANC leader in the Eastern Cape demanded R15 million for preparations for Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Phumlani Mkolo, the suspended ANC Buffalo City regional secretary, proposed that the municipality set aside R15m for the programme of memorial services in the period leading up to the funeral four years ago.

The Buffalo City Metro eventually made R10m available.

This is just one of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s shock findings on the Eastern Cape provincial government’s shambolic preparations for Mandela’s burial in Qunu, near Mthatha.

On Monday Mkhwebane released the report of her investigation into the looting of public funds during preparations for Mandela’s funeral.

In her interview with Mkhwebane, former Buffalo City mayor Zukiswa Ncitha denied the R15m budget was Mkolo’s idea, saying it was hers.

Ncitha, who is now an ANC MP, admitted to Mkhwebane that she ordered top municipal officials, then city manager Andile Fani and chief financial officer Vincent Pillay to go to the governing party’s regional office because the majority of the coastal city’s residents were “ANC people”.

Fani declined to make the R15m available as the municipality could not afford to spend the money without a plan. He eventually agreed to avail R10m, according to Mkhwebane’s report.

After about R6m was paid to a company called Victory Ticket 750 CC, Mkolo demanded another R3m, but Fani told Pillay not to pay it.

Ncitha also told the public protector that the provincial ANC leadership had also demanded R15m from the municipality.

Mkolo later told municipality officials that R10m would be sufficient.

Mkolo; Victory Ticket’s Mzwandile Sokwali and his wife Busisiwe Boti; businesspeople Dean Fanoe and Viwe Vazi; attorney Zintle Nkuhlu; former deputy mayor Temba Tinta; council speaker Luleka Simon-Ndzele; councillor Sindiswa Gomba; and director in the mayor’s office Ondela Mahlangu are facing criminal charges for their role in the scandal.

Mkhwebane said Gomba and Simon-Ndzele put the ANC’s interests ahead of the municipality’s, acted dishonestly, without good faith and in a manner that comprised Buffalo City’s integrity.

She found that Pillay failed to distinguish between the municipality’s financial matters and the interests of the ANC.

Mkhwebane has ordered Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to ask President Jacob Zuma to issue a proclamation for the Special Investigating Unit to probe the loss of public money and its unlawful appropriation.

She has also told the provincial government to take action against the province’s director-general Marion Mbina-Mthembu for possible financial misconduct.

Mbina-Mthembu was head of the provincial treasury when Mandela died on December 5 2013.

Mkhwebane wants Gomba, Simon-Ndzele, and the municipal managers of Buffalo City, King Sabata Dalindyebo and Nelson Mandela Bay municipalities to be probed for financial misconduct.

Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

According to Mkhwebane’s report, millions of rand meant to refurbish schools, provide water and sanitation and improve roads were blown on Mandela’s funeral.

The explosive report revealed how the Eastern Cape provincial government used a state-owned entity to fund the funeral while its board directors were kept in the dark.

The Eastern Cape Development Corporation’s R300m meant for refurbishing schools, provision of water and sanitation, and improvement of road infrastructure was set aside to fund the funeral.

According to the report, R201m had been set aside for schools, about R25m for water and sanitation, R98.2m for fencing and R43.5m for early childhood development centres.

Mkhwebane found that no provision was made for Mandela’s funeral in the provincial government’s budget despite planning for Mandela’s funeral having started in before 2009. The plan was codenamed “Project X”.

Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle told Mkhwebane that the province had no budget for Mandela’s funeral, but “funds had to be found for it”.

The funeral cost the Eastern Cape Development Corporation more than R22m, which was meant to improve one of the poorest regions in South Africa - the OR Tambo district.

The report also revealed that almost R800 000 was spent at fast food outlets KFC and McDonald’s to feed the 3000 marshals who were deployed across Mthatha to ensure safety at the public viewing areas during the mourning period.

Apparently, this was to prevent food poisoning if catering been sourced from caterers.

The provincial treasury described the money spent on fast food as “unforeseen exceptions”.

The Star

Read more: WATCH: Millions looted during Mandela funeral, says Public Protector