Dina Pule’s people in trouble

2014-09-07 15:00

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Disgraced former communications minister Dina Pule’s fall from grace continues after it emerged this week that President Jacob Zuma ordered the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to pursue the long list of allegations stemming from her time at the helm of the department – and seemingly targeting all her allies.

The multipronged investigation could pave the way for the prosecution of Pule and other officials who were close to her or had been appointed by her.

The presidential proclamation was signed by Zuma on July 12, but was only published in the Government Gazette on Thursday.

It lists six different matters for investigations into maladministration, unlawful conduct by department employees, the theft or waste of public money and corruption.

Some of the allegations, especially around the good fortune of Pule’s romantic partner Phosane Mngqibisa, are familiar and were already extensively investigated by the Public Protector for a report released in December last year.

The SIU will look into the department’s infamous R10?million donation to the ICT Indaba in 2012.

The proclamation also covers “improper or unlawful conduct” related to the appointment of Gugu Duda as the SABC’s chief financial officer in 2012.

Duda was suspended five months into the job and was ultimately dismissed this year. Duda told City Press in March she was being made a scapegoat after the Public Protector found her appointment at the SABC was “unlawful” and had been influenced by Pule and controversial SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Other issues being put into the SIU’s hands are relatively obscure. One of the allegations that needs investigating is that the department had appointed someone into a position that did not exist.

Another allegation is “improper or unlawful conduct by an official of the department, which resulted in the department purportedly breaching a contract between the department and Gitshasbaya Consulting”.

Less well-known cases related to apparently fraudulent or inflated payments to service providers regarding events are also covered.

This includes the allegedly inflated invoices from Blue Raindrops Advertising in relation to an imbizo hosted by Pule in Nkowankowa, Limpopo, in June last year.

That case involved Pule’s former spokesperson, Wisani Ngobeni, who was implicated for inflating invoices after an internal investigation.

Earlier this year. Ngobeni went to the labour court claiming he was being targeted because he had uncovered “dodgy” contracts at the department involving multimillion-rand payments to service provider Media Corner.

The SIU will also investigate procurement done in relation to a World Telecommunications and Information Society Day in Richards Bay, another event attended by Pule.

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