Zondo concerned no houses were built in the Free State despite millions being spent

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State Capture commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
State Capture commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24
  • The chief director in the local government branch of the Department of Local Government and Housing in the Free State, Kaizer Maxatshwa, says he and some colleagues were "charged unfairly" in connection with the R1 billion housing project.  
  • Maxatshwa accused former Free State Department of Human Settlements head Mpho Mokoena of contradicting himself.  
  • Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo says it is worrying millions of rand were paid out by the provincial government but the money ended in the pockets of some people. 

One of the Free State officials who was held liable in relation to the province's R1 billion housing scheme, which has been described as irregular and fraudulent, has pleaded with the Zondo commission to assist him and his fellow accused in finalising their case. 

Six officials were charged after a disciplinary hearing and the case is now before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). 

The former chief director in the local government branch of the Department of Local Government and Housing in the Free State, Kaizer Maxatshwa, said they were "charged unfairly". 

He told the commission on Wednesday in trying to get justice, they lost one of their colleagues, and he also suffered from depression and the "pressures of being purged by those that have powers to do so in our lives".

Maxatshwa said he could not get employment. 

The Free State was meant to build thousands of low-cost houses between 2010 and 2011, but they were never built.

When it under-spent the money allocated to it, the national department threatened to transfer some of the budget to "better-performing provinces".

READ | Zondo: Why has no one been charged or arrested in R1bn Free State housing scheme?

The commission heard the Free State had spent more than R500 million without any work being done.

It was also told the department had made payments to contractors and suppliers without any written agreement or any proof that houses had been built.

Former department boss Mpho Mokoena alleged former MEC Mosebenzi Zwane had devised a plan to prevent the national department from taking the money.  

But on Wednesday, Maxatshwa accused Mokoena of contradicting himself in relation to the project.

"As [for] Mr Mokoena, if you look at the transcript, what he said in his affidavit this week that was submitted to the commission is [a] total contradiction to what he said during the disciplinary hearing.

"He totally denied the responsibility of the system, whereas documents were there. He approved the implementation of the system [and] the memo. He also instructed and participated in a war room," he said.

Following his testimony, Zondo raised some concerns.  

"It's quite concerning that a lot of money that had been set aside for the purposes of building houses for people seems to have ended up in the hands of various suppliers and maybe contractors, more than 500 million I think I was told by Mr [Nthimotse] Mokhesi and yet no houses were built in regard to that particular allocation [in] 2010 [and] 2011 and the money should have benefited ordinary people.

"They should have got houses but they didn't get any houses and yet government had set aside a huge amount of money. 

"It is very concerning because a government is there to ensure that the people get the services they need."

Zondo said he had heard other testimonies about millions of rand being spent but ordinary people not benefiting.

The commission has in recent months heard extensive evidence relating to the R255 million asbestos audit project in the Free State. 

READ | Free State asbestos project a flawed process with no evidence of competitive bidding, Zondo commission hears

During evidence, it was revealed the province could have easily paid around R20 million to get the job done.

But instead a joint venture was paid millions of rand, only for it to sub-contract the work. 

Zondo had also heard evidence about the Vrede dairy farm project, which was meant to benefit black farmers.

"There too the people who were supposed to be beneficial did not benefit. I heard evidence that they never got anything and yet millions and millions were paid out and the real people who were supposed to benefit did not get anything. It is very concerning."

He said this did not mean the province was the worst because the commission had not heard evidence from others. 

"My own thinking is if one went around the provinces one will find a lot of projects where money that was supposed to benefit ordinary people ends up in the pockets of some people and ordinary people get nothing. It is very worrying.

"As I hear all of this evidence, here is something that troubles me a lot because, the people who are supposed to be taken care of end up receiving no benefits and yet [it is] their money because it is taxpayers' money, gets paid to other people."

The hearing will continue on Friday. 

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