Eight environment ministry officials suspended over R2bn tender fraud

Cape Town – The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has placed eight officials on precautionary suspension following a forensic investigation into contracts alleged to have been irregularly awarded by the department’s Waste Management Bureau. The department said the suspension is effective from today.

During the audit of the financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2019, the auditor-general identified a number of tenders which were irregularly awarded.

These included nine tenders awarded by the Waste Management Bureau with a total multi-year contract value of more than R2.1 billion and expenditure for the 2018/19 financial year amounting to more than R300 million.

Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Barbara Creecy mandated the then director-general, Nosipho Ngcaba, to institute an investigation to ascertain the reasons for the tenders being irregularly awarded.

The investigation needed to cover areas such as whether any losses were suffered by the department; whether the department received value for money; whether any officials/third parties had committed any acts of fraud and corruption; and whether any person/s could be held liable in law for the irregular expenditure. An independent forensic investigation company was appointed to conduct the investigation, the department said.

With regard to six of the nine tenders, with a combined value of R1 282 850 820.61, the investigation found prima facie evidence illustrating irregular appointments arose as a result of negligence, misconduct and/or possible fraud and corruption by certain officials of the department.

The department said it was taking disciplinary steps for misconduct identified in the report.

All system recommendations outlined in the forensic investigation report, would also be implemented in due course.

“With respect to the three remaining tenders, with a combined value of R822 317 398.32, the investigation found no evidence to indicate misconduct by officials or loss suffered by the department,” the statement said.

“It was found that the department received value for money. As such, the department will seek condonation from National Treasury for the irregular expenditure incurred in that regard,” it said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Barbara Creecy File picture: African News Agency (ANA)