WATER and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica yesterday suspended her director-general after damning allegations of financial irregularity and maladministration.
Pam Yako has also been accused of mismanagement. Though Sonjica did not shed more light, a highly placed source told Sowetan: "She is being investigated for wasting taxpayers' money. She booked herself and cronies in at the Sandton Sun Hotel during the last annual Women in Water awards. The rules state that if you are attending an event in your province there is no need to book accommodation."
The department allegedly paid R6million, Sowetan has learnt.
The source went on: "Two months ago she spent more money flying communication managers from all provinces to a lodge in Eastern Cape when they could have driven to Gauteng because it is central."
Department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said in a press statement: "Minister Sonjica has since given the D-G special leave to allow for an unfettered process of investigation.
"The D-G has lent her total support to the process and has indicated her willingness to cooperate fully with the investigation. We are committed to clean and efficient governance.
"We had to look into these allegations with the seriousness they deserve."
At the time of going to press, Yako's cellphone was switched off. As news of her suspension started spreading, there was jubilation in the department.
"The minister was inundated with evidence and a lot of us are already stepping forward to testify against her.
"She caused pain to a lot of people. Instead of calling her the D-G, we call her demigod. Others call her deputy god," said a source who wished to remain anonymous.
Yako's suspension follows that of Correctional Services director-general Xoliswa Sibeko, who was suspended last week for ordering R50000 worth of furniture for her official flat in Cape Town.