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21 September 2011 | Angeline Albert
Improper tendering of R3 billion (£248 million) has been uncovered at South Africa’s Department of Public Works – but the final bill is expected to be even higher.
A Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into the government department has found procurement irregularities involving leases for accommodation and buildings and 10 capital expenditure projects.
Public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde said: “We know of more than 40 cases where tenders were awarded improperly, where procedures were not followed and dishonesty took place.
“I was inadvertently handed a poisoned chalice. I inherited a situation where serious irregularities had occurred. It was extraordinarily difficult to get to the truth of what had been taking place because some officials did everything they could to obstruct my investigations. Frankly, I have been lied to and deceived by people who, instead of serving the people of South Africa, were intent on lining their own pockets.”
She said the department must become more vigilant in ensuring that proper tender procedures are followed and said criminal proceedings against officials involved would take place.
Marika Muller, acting head of communications at the SIU, said: “The R3 billion referred to by the minister in her statement is correct, though as the investigation is a three-year one (starting 30 July 2010 and ending 30 July 2013), we would anticipate that the amounts uncovered will increase.”