Transport MEC might face perjury charges after hearing

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

The standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) hearings in the Limpopo legislature are uncovering spending in the roads and transport department that Scopa chairman Rudolph Phala has described as "fruitless".

The hearings were prompted by the auditor-general in the province. He demanded clarity as to how monies were spent in the department during the 2006-07 financial year.

Some of the incidents uncovered include a R1,3million cheque that was deposited into the account of a municipality in KwaZulu-Natal. It was discovered too that the department had spent R22million to repair or upgrade nine graders when it would have been cheaper to have bought new ones.

Scopa chairman Rudolph Phala asked department head Mabel Makibelo how she had come to that decision when only two of the nine graders actually existed.

Scopa has ruled that an inspection-in-loco will be conducted to verify whether the equipment in question in fact exists.

"We are going to do an inspection in loco to see if the graders existed.

"If not, Makibelo will face perjury charges," Phala said.

A senior official in the department left Scopa members in stitches when he insisted they believed that if old graders were repaired they would perform better than new ones.

Phala said it was a fruitless expenditure.

Scopa also discovered that an amount of R1, 7million was spent to buy four speed cameras that were to be installed at Church Street in Polokwane.

The supplier was paid but the cameras were never installed, it was found.

Also, R600000 was spent to purchase communication devices such as video cameras, promotional materials and other equipment.

None of the above equipment was ever seen.

Phala said a report compiled by Scopa would determine what action would be taken against Makibelo and any other official found to have been responsible.

The department suspended six senior officials last year after they were found to have engaged in corrupt activities.

Their suspensions continue despite them having spent more than a year earning their salaries for doing nothing.