Limpopo official racks up R100k porn bill

2015-03-29 15:00

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Deputy speaker allegedly ran up the X-rated tab while on a trip to the US. The official who raised questions has been suspended. But now the Public Protector is investigating

The deputy speaker in the Limpopo legislature, Lehlogonolo Masoga, racked up a whopping R125?000 cellphone bill in one month – a huge chunk of which was allegedly the cost of watching porn while on an official overseas trip.

The legislature settled the huge bill – which is now being investigated by the Public Protector.

The bill has become the talk of the legislature since it came to light in January.

Masoga, an archrival of Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, has rubbished the allegations.

In a joint statement with the legislature, Masoga said the claims were a “smear campaign anchored on a cheap, beer-talk conspiracy to rubbish Masoga’s name” on a “baseless” matter “not supported by facts”.

“I reject with contempt the malicious, libellous and defamatory allegations levelled against me by some not-so-faceless conspirators to injure my integrity for cheap political motives,” he said in the statement.

Masoga – a former provincial chairperson of the ANC Youth League in Limpopo who was an ally of Malema until a nasty fallout – vowed he would resist the “political attempts to write my obituary when I am still breathing”.

He committed to “cooperate with the office of the Public Protector to lay this matter to rest”.

Masoga ran up the R125?000 on his official Vodacom cellphone in August last year. At the time, he was part of a delegation from the legislature that undertook an “economics trip” to the US, according to three sources in the legislature, including a senior official and an ANC member of the provincial legislature.

He is alleged to have run up the huge tab while watching porn on his official cellphone while paying data roaming charges.

One of the sources close to the supply chain unit of the legislature said he had seen the bill on a computer screen. Some lines were marked “X-rated”.

The bill came to light in January when the supply chain manager at the legislature, Maite Toona, raised questions. She has since been suspended. Critics believe it was because she refused to approve payment.

But the spokesperson of the legislature, Andries Lekalakala, denied this.

“The legislature has indeed suspended a senior official linked to supply chain management on allegations of supply chain management irregularities and possible corruption, as picked up by the Auditor-General’s report. However, the suspension of the said official has nothing to do whatsoever with the issue at hand,” he said.

Toona refused to comment, but confirmed she was indeed on suspension.

The legislature is believed to have paid the bill after Toona was suspended.

The Public Protector is probing the matter after the allegations were raised during an interaction with Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga in Polokwane about three weeks ago.

“The issue was raised by a Nehawu [National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union] representative during a session chaired by [Malunga] on an unrelated matter,” said the Public Protector’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe.

“The representatives concerned undertook to furnish us with details in a formal request for investigation, which to date we have not received. Nevertheless, we are proceeding with the matter.”

Before he became the deputy speaker, Masoga served briefly as MEC for roads and transport in the Cabinet appointed by Premier Stan Mathabatha when he took over from Cassel Mathale in July 2013.

A former provincial chairperson of the ANC Youth League in Limpopo, Masoga did not make the cut when Mathabatha appointed new MECs after last year’s general elections.

Sources said Masoga’s bill was the most talked-about subject at the legislature. “This thing has now become an open secret,” a source said.

The opposition DA said they intended to pursue the matter.

“Everyone is talking about it at the legislature, but the only way we can verify the actual amount involved and other details is by asking questions in the legislature,” said DA leader in the legislature Jacques Smalle.

“I know the deputy speaker was part of an economics trip to the US, although they have not yet reported back on it. Those allegations are something we are definitely going to follow up on.”

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