Ezemvelo audit probe fingers 47 employees over fraud and corruption

2008-08-19 00:00

FORTY-SEVEN employees of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife have been fingered in a forensic audit investigation into allegations of fraud and corruption at the provincial nature conservation agency.

Three are at executive level, and 25 at management level, while the remaining 19 are below management level.

The audit report has recommended that the SAPS institute criminal investigations against six employees, while proposing disciplinary action against 41.

Two of the six who may face criminal charges are managers. They have been fingered in acts of fraud, theft and corruption.

A summary of the forensic audit report states that one employee has already been charged, convicted of theft and given a suspended prison sentence, while police are investigating three others.

Of the 41 who could face disciplinary action, three are at an executive level, 23 are managers and 15 are below the management level.

These employees have been fingered in irregularities ranging from the “inappropriate use of corporate cards” to misappropriation of funds.

Other irregularities include approving VAT payments to suppliers who are not VAT-registered, inappropriately awarding tenders and the non-disclosure of business interests.

Already four EKZNW employees have been dismissed after disciplinary hearings following the audit investigation, the report states.

“One employee … has signed an acknowledgement of debt to EKZNW for R75 182,54, to be recovered from benefits due to her by EKZNW,” the report states.

However, the full forensic audit report has not been made public, with only a summary being released.

Agriculture and Environmental Affairs MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu told a joint sitting of the legislature’s finance watchdogs, the Public Accounts Standing Accounts (Scopa) and the finance portfolio committee, that it would not be ideal to make the findings public.

He urged that a full report be tabled in camera before the two committees in about two weeks.

He said this is because the report contains names of individuals implicated in certain irregularities, as well as information that could still form the basis of the criminal investigation.

Some committee members have expressed dismay at the summary and indicated that it will be difficult to deliberate on the findings unless the report is tabled in full.

Jo-Ann Downs of the ACDP objected that the report will be discussed in camera.

“It is better to put these issues in the open and deal with them,” she said.

DA MPL Johan Krog called for the investigation report to be made public.

“The vague forensic report summary presented today does not reveal all those implicated nor what further action is to be taken,” Krog said.

It seemed the MEC had allowed board members additional time to respond to issues raised in the forensic report.

“This in conjunction with the proposed in camera reporting suggests a high level of protection is being afforded — but to whom and for what reason?” Krog asked.

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