Minister linked to graft

2014-05-27 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Nkosinathi Nhleko, South Africa’s new minister of Police, had a big fall-out with his then boss, Mildred Oliphant, the minister of Labour, last year after she implicated Nhleko in irregular spending involving millions of rands.

Oliphant insisted that the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) should probe what had happened to R155 million from the the Workmen’s Compensation Fund.

Nhleko, then director-general of Labour, managed the fund’s finances and said he had contracted consultants to implement a turnaround plan.

The irregularities concerning the fund’s finances were seen in such a serious light that the minister, Nhleko and other officials of the fund were called to Parliament last October so that the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) could intervene.

A recording of the meeting has Nhleko trying to explain the chaos in the fund’s finances to Scopa’s chairperson Themba Godi, after which Oliphant said she would ask the SIU to investigate the matter.

Nhleko was redeployed to the Department of Public Service and Administration at the end of last year and an acting director-general was appointed in his place.

ANC and opposition MPs serving on Scopa, said they were yesterday shocked when Nhleko was announced as minister of Police.

“This guy is connected to very, very serious corruption,” one member said.

An employee at the had said Nhleko took over control of all tenders after Shadrack Mkhonto, the fund’s commissioner, had been placed on four months’ sick leave after he was in a car crash in August 2012.

“As accounting officer Nhleko took over all control of tenders and allocated millions [of rands] to consultants.”

When Mkhonto returned to work he raised the alarm.

Nhleko, however, insisted to Scopa’s members that a probe by the SIU was unnecessary, as he had contracted the consultants to implement a turnaround strategy.

Oliphant did not believe any of this and dismissed Nhleko.

Oliphant has, however, to this day not yet opened a case with the SIU, the unit’s spokesperson Boy Ndala confirmed yesterday.

The SIU can only investigate a case if requested and if the president then issues a proclamation that approves the request.

Oliphant’s office could not yesterday say if her office had referred the case to any other department or investigative body or explain why she never requested the SIU to probe the missing millions.

The minister did not answer her cellphone yesterday.

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