‘Come clean or else’ — Scopa

2013-10-18 00:00

THE Community Safety and Liaison Department was yesterday warned to avoid causing unnecessary tensions with the legislature by not releasing a report on a forensic investigation it had conducted into tender irregularities.

“If you decide to run away with information, you are causing unnecessary tensions because one day, as the legislature, we will rise to the occasion and I don’t think you will see the light of the next day,” standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) chairperson Sipho Nkosi said.

Nkosi made the stern warning at a Scopa meeting when the Auditor-General’s report into the department’s finances was considered.

In his report, the A-G said the department had conducted an investigation into irregularities in the supply chain management in the 2012/13 financial year.

The report has not been furnished to Scopa and the portfolio committee on community safety and liaison, which did not sit well with Scopa.

Although details of the irregularities in the tender investigation were not explained, it is understood the department now wants R718 487 recovered from an unnamed service provider apparently fingered in the probe.

In his presentation to Scopa, the department’s chief finance officer, Eric Ramsamy, said the department was acting on the investigator’s recommendations and that the report had been referred to the Hawks for investigation.

He added that the report had also been referred to the Office of the Premier to assist with disciplinary action to be taken and that state attorneys were instructed to institute civil action against a service provider to recoup money paid.

“The release of the information in the report may have a negative impact on the criminal and civil proceedings which have been instated.

“For this reason it is not desirable to release a copy of the report until these processes have been finalised,” Ramsamy explained in his report.

He said the position taken by the department was based on legal opinion and he was not authorised to release it for fear of prejudicing criminal and civil proceedings.

Nkosi instructed the department to either furnish Scopa with the report or give reasons why it could not.

Earlier, an official from the legislature’s legal division told Scopa that any portfolio committee was entitled to forensic investigation reports once they were completed, to enable the committees to exercise their oversight function, unless a reason is furnished for its being withheld.

“It is not sufficient to simply say the matter is sub judice, is under further investigation or is with the Hawks,” the official said.

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