Beitbridge border fiasco: 'We must not be scared of De Lille' - ANC MP slams minister

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Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille.
Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille.
Bonolo Selibano, Gallo Images
  • The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure has adopted a damning report on the Beitbridge border fence project.
  • MPs have also called for decisive action against Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille for her role in the matter.
  • The report is expected to be considered by the National Assembly.

Calls for decisive action against Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille are growing louder as lawmakers adopted a damning report on her involvement in the Beitbridge border fiasco.

ANC MP Tim Mashele didn’t mince his words about De Lille’s role in the controversial project.

"We cannot be hard on officials who are executing the instructions of the minister and be a sweetheart to her. We must not be scared of the minister. Once we are done with the big fish, then maybe we can go after officials. If our teeth don’t bite her (De Lille), then this is just a PR exercise," he said.

The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure met on Wednesday to deliberate on De Lille's report following a visit last month to the now controversial Beitbridge border fence.

The report is expected to be considered by the National Assembly.

READ | 11 officials implicated in Beitbridge border fence irregularities to be charged

Mashele said, given all the reports the committee had received, there was sufficient evidence against De Lille.

"The minister was central here. She issued an illegal directive. These wrongdoings were not an accident. We have received the reports from National Treasury. One day she says something in the committee, the next day she is having a press conference where she says something else. She has misled us," he said.

In early September, Scopa, the Portfolio Committees on Public Works and Infrastructure and the Department of Home Affairs undertook an oversight visit to the border.

It found the 40km border fence was not fit for purpose and that construction of the fence was a wasteful expenditure.

At least 115 breaches were detected, which made it easy for illegal immigrants unlawfully crossing between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The original design of the fence had a height of 2.2m, but the final, actual height of the fence reached no more than 1.8m on either side of the border.

DA MP Madeleine Hicklin requested a timeline of the disciplinary hearings against the implicated officials.

"Orange overalls are needed. Minister De Lille needs to be held accountable," she said.

READ ALSO | De Lille admits she identified a service provider, but did not instruct anyone to break the law

ANC MP Lizzie Fikelephi Shabalala questioned why De Lille had been part of the committee’s meetings if she has been implicated in the wrongdoing.

"She is the player and the referee in this fiasco," Shabala said.

On Thursday, the Special Investigating Unit’s application to freeze the bank accounts of Caledon River Properties CC, trading as Magwa Construction and Profteam CC, will be heard.

The companies are responsible for the construction of the porous R40-million border fence.

The department's national bid adjudication committee (NBAC) approved both bids for the project in March.

On 18 March, the NBAC approved the appointment of Caledon River Properties CC, trading as Magwa Construction, to provide contractor services for at a cost of R37 million.

The next day, Profteam CC's appointment was approved to provide professional services at a cost of R3.2 million.

De Lille has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.


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