Seven suspended over R25,5m transport fiasco

Selby Makgotho

Selby Makgotho

The controversy over the R25,5million International Transport Convention (ITC) scandal in Limpopo has come back to haunt seven high-ranking officials who allocated the controversial tenders.

The Department of Roads and Transport has charged seven officials with negligence .

Walter Sathekge, the general manager responsible for road traffic and safety; Phuthi Mabelebele, senior communications manager; Nomsa Masango, senior manager responsible for information technology; William Hlongwane, senior manager at the Capricorn District; Appelles Leshaba, ITC project manager; Monty Mohapi, senior manager for records and facilities; and NF Dhumazi, the chief financial officer, have been warned to appear before a departmental disciplinary committee on February 12.

The seven were initially fingered in the auditor-general's report and also in the department's appointed SD Consulting firm, which audited the ITC books.

The seven are expected to answer to allegations of misconduct and gross negligence at the ITC.

Ben Mehale, the mastermind behind the scandal, has already been suspended and is expected to pay back the money before the end of this month.

Mehale is also facing a separate inquiry for allegedly authorising the building of a terminal at a cost of R28million when there was no budget for it.

The Office of Serious Economic Offences in Pretoria is investigating him after the department opened a case of fraud against him last month.

Mabel Makibelo, head of the department, yesterday confirmed that the seven had been charged with misconduct and that they would appear before the department's disciplinary hearing next Monday.

She said the officials were suspended based on the recommendations of the standing committee on public accounts, which found irregularities in the tenders they processed.

"The officials are appearing for negligence in the exercising of their duties, which resulted in wasteful expenditure in the department," Makibelo said.