Suspect tenders of R3bn at public works
Johannesburg - An investigation by the department of public works (DPW), in partnership with the special investigation unit, has revealed a number of serious irregularities in the award of certain tenders granted by the department, the minister of public works, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, disclosed on Monday.
Criminal charges were likely to be brought against several department officials and others outside the department, she said.
Mahlangu-Nkabinde said in a statement that since she took office ten months ago, she had been investigating a number of tenders awarded by the department.
"After I was appointed I discovered that the ANC, the government, and the people of South Africa had been let down by dishonest officials in the DPW; I was inadvertently handed a poisoned chalice," she said.
"I inherited a situation where serious irregularities had occurred. It was extraordinarily difficult to get to the truth of what had been taking place because some officials did everything they could to obstruct my investigations.
"Frankly, I have been lied to and deceived by people who instead of serving the people of South Africa were intent on lining their own pockets.
"We know of more than 40 cases where tenders were awarded improperly, where proper procedures were not followed and dishonesty took place. We have confirmed to date that tenders with a value of more than R3bn have been affected.
"Because we are still investigating we cannot be sure that we have yet discovered all of the wrong doing. We will involve law enforcement agencies within the public service and the criminal justice cluster in the hope that the wrong-doers will be brought to justice."
The minister said that the situation had overshadowed the good work the department did.
"It is sad that the public focus will now be on criminal activities instead of what has been achieved thanks to the hard work of many of our officials."
She added that she was in the process of strengthening her team to ensure the people of South Africa are better served.
"Under the circumstances it would be unrealistic to expect that the department will be given a clean bill of health by the auditor general. We know of irregular expenditure, what appears to be false book keeping and have discovered evidence of corruption by DPW officials.
"I cannot undo what was done in the past but I can assure South Africa that its government will not tolerate corruption and dishonesty. It will take me many months to unravel all that has happened but it will be done."
The minister said an urgent priority was to ensure that the process when leasing properties was tightened up and consistently applied.
"I cannot wave a magic wand and cure the ills of corruption overnight.
"What has to be done is for the department to become more vigilant in ensuring that proper tender procedures are followed. I would also like to see the justice system send a message to corrupt officials by handing down stiff penalties for those found guilty of white collar crime."