state defrauded of thousands of rands

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

Five service providers transporting pupils in Mpumalanga have been positively linked to defrauding the government of thousands of rands.

Sowetan has established that the office of Premier Thabang Makwetla instituted an investigation in 2006 following an anonymous tip-off about bribery and corruption claims involving payments to pupil transport service providers.

The caller alleged that Mandla Chauke, acting chief administration officer, took bribes from SA Mpheti and other service providers in return for contracts from the department.

The report by internal auditor EJ de Jager was released on September 13 2006.

The report showed that the investigators requested the NPA to determine if any money was deposited into Chauke's bank account and that of his wife.

It recommended that the case be investigated by the Scorpions, but the outcome of the unit's investigation has not been made public.

It is not clear if Chauke's suspension had anything to do with the Scorpions' investigation.

Education MEC Mmathulare Coleman last week suspended Chauke, together with deputy director Willem Kotze, chief director Thomas Maputle, director in the supply chain Sipho Thwala, and two junior clerks, in what officials said was related to corruption and mismanagement.

The internal report further states that a detailed analysis of the payments to each service provider showed that certain payments to Barudi Development Services and Ngwato Transport Services, both owned by Mpheti, had inconsistencies in the mileage covered.

The report said Barudi, Ngwato, MJM Transport, Phindamzala, and Pats Bus Services had defrauded the government of thousands of rands and recommended that the department recover the money.

It also indicated that Vukubone Secondary School principal, Sipho Sigasa, pointed out that mileage claimed by Barudi was unrealistic because there was a discrepancy between the actual distance and the amount invoiced.

Another principal, Mpostoli Nzima of Gem Combined School, said in an affidavit that he did not sign the invoices submitted by Barudi and that according to records, the distance from Spring Grove via Clearance to the school was 70km and not 112km as claimed.

As a result of this false claim, thousands of rands in overpayment because of inflated mileage were paid to service providers.

Certain payments made by the department to Ngwato Transport Services did not correspond with the invoice received and signed by the principal, added the internal report.