Massive overspending on state funerals probed

Patricia de Lille.
Patricia de Lille.
Adrian de Kock, Netwerk24, Gallo Images
  • Parliament's budget watchdog Scopa is probing the massive overspending on state funerals.
  • Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille has told Scopa preliminary charges against officials involved have been drawn up.
  • Crocia Events charged government R76 million for the funerals of ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former cabinet minister Zola Skweyiya and former chief of state protocol Billy Modise – all of whom died in 2018.

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille is sitting with draft preliminary charges against officials involved in overspending on three state funerals costing taxpayers R76 million.

De Lille told Parliament's budget watchdog, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), on Wednesday night auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was commissioned by the department's anti-corruption fraud awareness unit to investigate allegations that Crocia Events allegedly submitted inflated invoices for state funerals.

Crocia Events charged government R76 million for the funerals of ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former cabinet minister Zola Skweyiya and former chief of state protocol Billy Modise – all of whom died in 2018.

The department's director general Sam Vukela is implicated, and some MPs were not impressed with his presence in the virtual meeting with an investigation hanging over his head.

ALSO READ | De Lille eyes fraud charges over R76m price tag for state funerals of ANC veterans - report

In February, De Lille wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa to inform him of the investigation conducted by the department's Governance, Risk and Corruption branch and the PwC findings made against Vukela.

In March, Ramaphosa gave De Lille the go-ahead for action against Vukela.

Crocia was paid more than R35 million for Madikizela-Mandela's funeral.

PwC found invoiced items deemed contractually compliant only amounted to R4.7 million, while items that were invoiced but not listed on the tender pricing schedule, came to just more than R17 million.

An amount of R8.3 million varied for invoiced items listed in the tender pricing schedule, but in different unit prices.

Invoiced items that could not be reconciled to the tender pricing schedule, amounted to R29 400.

The quotation provided by Crocia exceeded the final specifications issued by the department at an excess amount of R11.4 million, PwC found.

"There was no evidence of a request for these additional items by the department and Crocia's quotation included a management fee of R 4 052 760.21," PwC found.

Crocia was paid R28.9 million for Skweyiya's funeral, but items invoiced only amounted to about R4.3 million.

Items invoiced but not listed on the tender pricing schedule came to R6.1 million.

Invoiced items that were listed in the tender pricing schedule but in different unit prices, varied in the amount of R14.7 million.

Items that were invoiced but could not be reconciled to the tender pricing schedule, amounted to R3 500.

Corrective action

The quotation provided by Crocia exceeded the final specifications issued by the department at an excess amount of R945 071.80.

"There was no evidence of a request for these additional items by the department; and Crocia's quotation included a management fee of R3 285 571.80," the report read.

PwC furthermore found that in respect of Modise's funeral Crocia was paid R11.4 million.

The contractually compliant items invoiced only amounted to about R3.1 million.

More than R5 million was paid for items that were invoiced but not listed on the tender pricing schedule.

An amount of R826 070 was invoiced for items listed in the tender pricing schedule but in different unit prices.

In total R402 000 was invoiced for items that could not be reconciled to the tender pricing schedule.

PwC found the procurement process in which Crocia was appointed was flawed, as bids were evaluated based on the total amount of the bid, without considering individual line items.

"Had individual line items been considered, it would have been found that Crocia's bid was at a higher price."

De Lille said "corrective action" will be taken against the implicated officials while the appointed law firm had already commenced with the process.

She told MPs she had received a draft of preliminary charges on 2 July and is applying her mind to the matter.

In a different report to Scopa, De Lille said the matter was referred to the Special Investigating Unit on 16 March to investigate and recover all or alternatively some of the funds paid to Crocia Events.

The Hawks are also investigating the matter.

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