'Jail looms for fraud syndicte members'

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Several high-profile businesspeople and senior government officials could end up in jail after being fingered in a multi-billion rand fraud involving the KwaZulu-Natal department of social development.

The scam involves fraudulently setting up information technology, security and catering companies - all allegedly current tender beneficiaries.

Social development MEC Meshack Radebe told a media briefing yesterday that the damning revelations were the findings of a forensic investigation into allegations of fraud amounting to billions of rands. He said this affected his department directly.

The names of the alleged perpetrators - both private individuals and government officials - have been sent to the SAPS.

The investigation by Advocate Stix Mdladla found that eight fraudulent IT companies not registered with the Seta as suppliers were awarded contracts. But the department has not received the equipment and there are no invoices or tender papers to support the transactions.

The investigators have profiles of the implicated companies, the people used as fronts to procure the deals and banking details.

"The people whose companies were used in the scam have confessed in sworn affidavits to who had approached them to do what and how," Radebe said.

"Employees appear to have colluded with the alleged suppliers and service providers to fraudulently manipulate the procurement and practices of the department."

The investigation has yet to identify other recipients of payments of up to R30million made by the department.

"I cannot say when we expect arrests to be made," Radebe said.

"It depends on police investigations. We are talking about well-known people who have been milking the department for quite some time."