Read Sexwale’s full response

2011-07-09 10:00

Press statement issued by the Department of Human Settlements 09 July 2011


1.    The ministry and the department’s fight against corruption which affects tax payers and the poorest of the poor, will continue to be pursued vigorously against any government or non-government persons, without fear or favor.
2.    The department is more than aware that certain people within the National Home Builders Regulatory Council (NHBRC) suspected of wrong doing, having put severe question marks upon their integrities, are attempting to mislead the media and public at large about their culpability.

3.    For the record it must be noted that Ms. Vanessa Somiah is the senior Special Investigations Unit (SIU) official, who having been entrusted with the sensitive investigation of, amongst others the CEO of the NHBRC, Mr. Sipho Mashinini, ended being recruited by the self same person into the NHBRC top management. In this respect the following can be stated:

3.1     Nothing that Ms. Vanessa Somiah or others may say will undo the fact that she jumped from the SIU having been entrusted with this sensitive investigation and ended up gaining employment within the NHBRC. This constitutes a serious conflict of interest.

3.2     Nothing she or others may say will change the fact that such a senior post given to her by Mr. Mashinini within the NHBRC, which requires ministerial approval, did not get such approval by the Minister of Human Settlements via the NHBRC council. This appointment was irregular.

3.3     Nothing that she or others may say will change the fact that she was granted a salary of R1.3million plus benefits, which falls within the ministerial salary bracket, way above approximately R700 000 she was earning at the SIU.

3.4     Nothing she or others may say will change the fact that her departure from the SIU and her negotiations with the NHBRC CEO were kept away from her SIU employers, when it was important for good governance purposes to declare her future employment within the NHBRC to the SIU.

3.5     Nothing she or others may say will hide away the complete shock and bewilderment on the part of NHBRC workers, particularly the whistleblowers, when they saw the senior SIU investigator walking into NHBRC premises having been appointed to a senior position by the same CEO they had raised issues about. It can now be understood why the Nehawu members staged a protest against management at the NHBRC headquarters this week.

3.6     Nothing she or others may say will change that both she and Mr. Mashinini are now suspended by a unanimous resolution of the council of the NHBRC and not the untruth which Ms. Somiah has told her lawyers that she is not suspended but is on maternity leave.

3.7     Nothing she or others may say will take away that having been thus exposed, she has through her lawyers demanded from the department an immediate payment of one million rands for what she regards as damage to her integrity; while strangely, in a subsequent letter within days through the same lawyers, is requesting an amicable solution.

3.8     Nothing she or others may say will diminish the commitment and authority of the department to investigate corruption in all its forms within or outside the boundaries of any Proclamation because corruption does not require only special investigations. A simple police person can be called upon to investigate any wrong doing by anybody within and outside the department. Corrupt activity is investigated at any time.

3.9     Nothing she or others may say will make us retreat from pursuing people who have acted in a questionable manner, hoping to muddle issues by concealing themselves and their evil deeds behind innocent ministers such as the previous Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu; their fabrication that the investigation is intended to embarrass any minister is laughable because through their own actions they have tarnished their own reputations and embarrassed themselves.

4.    The department’s resolve and political will under the leadership of Minister Tokyo Sexwale to see through this investigation remains undiminished. The scourge of corruption in our society must be fought relentlessly and vigorously because ultimately it is the public and the tax payers who suffer losses – particularly ordinary working people and the poorest of the poor who become eventual victims of corrupt conduct in the public and or private sector.

5.    In light of the above, the department welcomes the statement issued by Nehawu in support of Nehawu whistleblowers, whose efforts have been publicly appreciated by the SIU head Mr. Willie Hofmeyer.

6.    The minister says: “As a Cabinet Minister acting under the direction of the President, I am not running a corruption-protection racket; furthermore I have a responsibility to keep away public funds from unscrupulous hands. I also welcome the steps taken by the NHBRC council in suspending the affected persons and look forward to the conclusion of the investigations which are being conducted by the NHBRC as well as the broader investigation by the SIU within the housing sector countrywide.”

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