Marine patrol vessels yet to set sail

2012-08-17 11:56
Tina Joemat-Pettersson (File, Beeld)

Tina Joemat-Pettersson (File, Beeld)

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Cape Town - State marine patrol vessels will only set sail by October after being berthed at Simon's Town since the navy took over operational control of them in April, Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said on Thursday.

Replying in writing to a parliamentary question, Joemat-Pettersson said the navy required training to operate the research and patrol vessels.

"At this stage the department is in the process of recruiting specialised personnel to support the navy."

Attempts to attract suitable staff had so far failed as a result of the low salary packages being offered.

The navy was roped in after the contract with Smit Amandla Marine to operate the vessels ended on March 31.

Joemat-Pettersson then announced the awarding of a new tender to investment and fishing firm Sekunjalo had been cancelled, amid corruption allegations.

The awarding of the tender, as well as the Smit Amandla Marine contract, was being investigated.

Asked about the details of the probe on Thursday, Joemat-Pettersson said: "The investigation covers the period 1999 to 2012. The investigation is being conducted by the SAPS and an internationally recognised auditing firm. The investigation is being conducted in phases."

She said other agencies were also involved in an inquiry.

"Importantly the Hawks and the Asset Forfeiture Unit are busy with an extremely sensitive and important investigation into corruption in the fisheries branch in excess of R1bn relating to the irregular, illegal extension of this contract with the private sector," she said.

A report from Public Protector Thuli Madonsela into the debacle was expected by next week.

DA MP Pieter van Dalen lodged a complaint with Madonsela's office after Smit Amandla Marine won a court interdict against the awarding of the new tender.

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