rotten ex-staff pay back R10M

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

The provincial department of housing and local government has recovered more than R10million from former employees of the department.

Yesterday MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu announced that 36 forensic investigations have been commissioned by his department since 2004.

He said a total of 25 forensic reports have been actioned and closed, while 11 investigations are still in progress.

"Due to the forensic investigations, we have been able to root out corrupt elements."

He said 25 officials from several districts and local municipalities have been suspended in three years for various corruption-related issues regarding fraud, misconduct, theft, misappropriation of funds and serious irregularities.

"Five criminal cases have been laid with the SAPS and civil recoveries amounting to R10million have been made," he said.

lMeanwhile, runaway fires that wreaked havoc two months ago in the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal have prompted the department to recruit young people to undergo disaster management training in fighting fires.

Nearly 3000 households were damaged and 1164 people affected when runaway fires destroyed livestock, infrastructure and property in areas around Nkandla.

Twenty seven people lost their lives and 58 were injured.

Mabuyakhulu said that in response to the increased number of natural and man-made disasters suffered by the province, his department conducted an international disaster management study tour.

"With the 2010 soccer World Cup around the corner, the importance of being prepared for any kind of disaster cannot be overemphasised.

"We have since visited the United States, Japan, Indonesia and Australia to learn lessons on how to deal with such disasters.

"Following the visits, it was decided to start a drive to recruit disaster management volunteers using certain aspects of the Australian fire volunteer's model," Mabuyakhulu said.

He said the exchange programme will be implemented soon and 22 volunteers will undergo three months of training in Australia.