Govt spent R5 billion on renting private buildings for government departments

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Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille.
Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille.
  • The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has revealed it spent R5 billion on renting private properties for government departments and institutions.
  • Just over 300 landlords have been over-payed to the tune of R66 million, most of which the department has already recouped.
  • The expenditure covers the financial year ending March 2020.

Government has forked out R5 billion on renting private properties for government departments and institutions, but the fight is now on to recoup millions in overpayments to landlords.

This was revealed by Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille in her reply to a parliamentary question from EFF MP Annacleta Mathapelo Siwisa.

Siwisa wanted details on the number of buildings the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) were renting from private landlords to house government departments and institutions.

READ | De Lille gets help from Mabuza to help recoup billions from govt departments

She also raised the question of overpayments with rent.

“I was informed by the DPWI that as at March 2020, there were 2 265 properties that the DPWI was renting from private landlords to house government departments and institutions. [The] total payments on those buildings for the financial year ended 31 March 2020 amounted to R5 billion,” De Lille said.

Some of the biggest amounts spent on rental payments were made for buildings occupied by the SAPS.

One company, SKG/Africa Properties, received over R93 million in annual rent for leasing its buildings to police management.

Massive annual rent payments were also made on behalf of departments occupying private buildings.

These include the departments of:

  • Water and Sanitation – R51 million;
  • Defence and Military Veterans – R22 million;
  • National Treasury – R61 million;
  • Correctional Services – R55 million;
  • Home Affairs – R66 million;
  • Human Settlements – R34 million;
  • Transport R86 million; and
  • Higher Education and Training – R48 million

On the question of overpayments on rentals, De Lille said: “I was informed that when the DPWI migrated to [a] new system to accommodate the lease-in functionality, there have been instances where overpayments occurred.  The number of leases affected as a result of the overpayments were 305 with a total value of R66 million. From the R66 million overpayment an amount of R55 million has already been recovered and the balance of R11 million is being recovered.”

ALSO READ | Public works department 'is a mess' - Patricia de Lille tells Parliament

In a separate parliamentary reply, De Lille also revealed her department has not referred any cases directly to the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT).

She said the department refers cases directly to police, the Hawks, and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

“Based on their own processes and procedures, these law enforcement agencies make a determination on the cases to be referred to the Anti-Corruption Task Team for further investigation.

"As per the Anti-Corruption Task Team report to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) in Parliament on 11 November 2020, a total of 21 cases have been reported in relation to the DPWI. As per the public record, these cases are at various stages of investigation. The Anti-Corruption Task Team provides feedback directly to the law enforcement agencies.”

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