Prison boss’s R117?000 cell bill

2014-07-04 00:00

CONTROVERSIAL KZN prison boss Mnikelwa Nxele is embroiled in a fresh ­scandal — this time for an unpaid mobile phone bill of nearly R117 000.

The Witness can reveal the taxpayer has had to pay the huge phone bill of the boss of KZN’s Correctional Services.

Nxele is understood to have accrued the bulk of the exorbitant bill while stationed in the Western Cape, and a further R20 000 when he moved to his current post.

His alleged malfeasance and unpaid bill was highlighted in the department’s Internal Audit Report, tabled in 2012.

Several well-placed sources within the Department of Corrections say this bill remains unpaid.

Their corroborated accounts were condensed into a single dossier which was leaked to The Witness.

The sources, who could not be named for fear of reprisal, said that Nxele had on several occasions been called to explain why the cellphone bill had not been settled.

“Nxele has not led by example in debt management for the department he runs. While driving a campaign for the speedy recovery of debt in the province, he has owed the department a massive sum of money for years and has not attempted to settle it.

“All this while he signs off on the normal debt recovery process for other officials,” the source said.

“The former regional head of finance made an effort to recover the money from Nxele, but he refused to pay.

“It was escalated to other senior structures at a national level, but Nxele continues to operate with impunity and it would appear that his debt has been forgotten,” the source added. Nxele failed to respond to questions sent to him prior to publication.

Recommendations of the 2012 audit ­report included the intervention of Nxele’s immediate superiors.

“What has happened between then and now is nothing.

“What is certain is that the debt has not been paid,” the source said.

According to the dossier, Nxele’s unpaid bill is a violation of the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury Regulations.

“Nxele has failed to comply with or has contravened the PFMA and has thereby prejudiced the financial administration of the Department of Correctional Services as a state institution.”

This revelation follows a recent controversy revealed by The Witness which showed how Nxele gave an executive ­instruction to pay convicted armed robber and “people’s poet” Mzwakhe Mbuli over R50 000 to officiate an event.

Mbuli pocketed the cash paid out of a fund account to bypass a tender process and never took to the stage.

During Nxele’s tenure the prison system in KwaZulu-Natal has been marked by headline-grabbing moments.

Last year guns, ammunition, cellphones and other contraband was discovered during a raid on Westville Prison.

Weeks earlier, the “Houdini of C-Max”, serial rapist Ananias Mathe, was on the cusp of escape after tunnelling out of his cell at the country’s most secure prison in Kok­stad.

National Correctional Services Department spokesperson Manelisi Wolela could not be reached for comment.

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