Probe into R200m prisons deal 'will not be squashed'

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

New correctional services director-general Xoliswa Sibeko has vowed to take action gainst a government official who claimed she was told to "squash the investigation" into possible corruption around a R200million prisons catering contract.

Earlier this week, Western Cape director of public works Sid Luckett claimed that Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour had instructed Sibeko to stop the investigation into a contract given to Bosasa.

Balfour is being investigated by Parliament's ethics committee for allegedly receiving a discount on his Tuareg 4x4 from Kgwerano Asset Finance, a company reportedly linked to Bosasa.

Speaking at an executive management committee meeting, Sibeko said she had "instructed the legal and special operations unit" to go after Sid Luckett.

"These allegations have greatly annoyed the leadership of the department, with concerns about the motives of a person peddling these distortions and half truths," said Sibeko's spokesman Manelisi Wolela.

"She is considering legal action. There are regulations governing public servants. They should watch when they say things that are unfounded," Wolela said.

He said there was no truth in the claims that Sibeko would "squash the investigation" into Bosasa.

"All investigations under way will be expedited and concluded with appropriate sanctions for those found guilty," he said.

Sibeko, the former sports DG, was transferred to correctional services two weeks ago in a controversial "DG swap" that saw correctional services DG Vernie Petersen being transferred to the Department of Sports.

Petersen was allegedly transferred to sports after clashes with Balfour.

Petersen first defied Balfour's instruction to extend Bosasa's R200 million catering contract for another year.

He then suspended Mpumalanga prisons boss and Patrick Gillingham, who had been involved in the awarding of the contract.

Opposition parties are unanimous that Petersen, who they say was doing a great job cleaning up corruption in the prisons service, must be reinstated.