Minister dismisses Kruger Park corruption allegations

2012-03-09 11:43

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has dismissed allegations of tender corruption and maladministration in the Kruger National Park.

Molewa’s statement was prompted by 15 parliamentary questions from the DA, which alleged widespread corruption at the popular game park.

She said the allegations appeared to come from a disgruntled former security manager at the park, Bheki Nsibande.

Nsibande was dismissed in June for circumventing supply chain management policy and awarding contracts to companies in which his younger brother and a friend were directors.

Molewa said that companies which won contracts from Nsibande had never traded with the Kruger National Park before Nsibande’s appointment in 2008.

He awarded contracts below R500 000, as above this threshold the National Treasury regulations would have compelled a full tender process.

In total, the contracts amounted to R4.76 million, said Molewa.

Nsibande was also found guilty of unauthorised use of a park vehicle and speeding.

He appealed the dismissal but his appeal was unsuccessful.

This was despite allegedly lobbying SA National Parks’ (SANParks) chief executive David Mabunda from an untraceable email address, telling him to set aside the disciplinary results to avoid media exposure on tender irregularities and maladministration in SANParks, said Molewa.

Nsibande’s case was awaiting a trial date in the Labour Court.

Nsibande began “what can only be called a dirty tricks campaign”, Molewa said.

He allegedly delivered a dossier of evidence of tender corruption to the Auditor-General, the Public Protector and City Press newspaper.

The Auditor-General extended the scope of SANParks’ yearly audit to include the allegations.

Results, as reflected in the SANParks yearly audit report for 2011/12, did not find evidence of fraud, irregularities or non-compliance with supply chain management policy, Molewa said.

However, the Auditor-General found administrative gaps which needed to be strengthened, which SANParks has noted. The Public Protector has not yet concluded her investigation.

In addition, the SANParks Board has instituted a forensic investigation into the alleged unethical relationships between officials and certain service providers, said Molewa.

Accounting firm SizweNtsalubaGobodo was appointed to conduct the investigation and its report was completed in December. It exonerated officials who were accused of corrupt relationships.

The audit and risk committees would recommend the adoption of the firm’s forensic findings at the next meeting of the SANParks’ board.

“In January 2012, I was alerted to the existence of a vitriolic and scathing Facebook profile by one ‘Knp Mabundana/ Kelogs Mabundana/Kelogs Mabundanai/Kelogs Mabundy’ which was and still is spewing bile and launching scathing attacks on SANParks and its officials for corruption and maladministration, under the cover of aliases,’ Molewa said.

She said the person behind the page referred to SANParks officials as “corrupt baboons and hyenas who have no morals”.

SANParks is seeking relief from the smear campaign in court, said Molewa. “The smear campaign is not just causing reputational damage to SANParks and its officials, it is also sowing public distrust in the institution, affecting its relations with financiers and donors and instilling disobedience among staff.”

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