Minister 'lied about 5-star splurge'

2011-11-13 14:37

Johannesburg - Tina Joemat-Pettersson, the ­agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, has been accused of “lying” about not knowing the “obscene” costs of a Sandton guest house she stayed in.

A former employee of the 28A on Oxford Guest House, who ­personally assisted the minister during her stay, accused Joemat-Pettersson of being selective with the truth after she denied last week knowing that the rates at the guest house were exorbitant.

According to the source, ­Joemat-Pettersson sent some of her staff members to “have a look at the place” before she moved ­into the guest house from June to July last year, during the Soccer World Cup.

“They had all the prices. When she (Joemat-Pettersson) arrived here, she still said it’s because of people like us (with high prices) that foreigners do not want to come to South Africa.

“She booked a R5 000-a-night executive suite for herself, another for a friend, and then booked her children into a junior room and their nanny into a standard room.

Paid for friend

“However, she paid for the friend’s accommodation out of her own pocket.”

According to the source, on many nights Joemat-Pettersson didn’t even sleep in her ­exorbitantly-expensive room.

The department eventually had to pay R420 000 in total for her accommodation in this guest house.

Last week the minister said she had not “wildly imagined” her stay would cost taxpayers so much. She denied knowing how much the cost of the accommodation was and called the R420 000 “an obscene amount”.

City Press’s source said that Joemat-Pettersson stayed at the guest house for about six weeks.

“Usually executive suites are R3 000 per night, but during the tournament the agency charged R5 000. She (the minister) stayed on a long time after the soccer.

Didn't sleep in her room sometimes

“On many nights, she didn’t even sleep in her room. I know this because she insisted on us having to take breakfast to her room in the mornings, but often she wasn’t even there.

“She was also injured during that period, and a physiotherapist treated her at the guesthouse.”

Selby Bokaba, Joemat-Pettersson’s spokesperson, told City Press on Friday that he would not comment on the ­allegations made by the source.

“The Public Protector is investigating the matter. We are giving our full co-operation and will only respond to this legal process.”
The inquiry follows a complaint by the DA about Joemat-Pettersson’s R1.6 million bill for luxury hotels and guest houses since her appointment in 2009. 

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