nkwinika to be charged, finally

MPUMALANGA'S embattled public works head Priscilla Nkwinika will finally be charged.

After several reports carried in Sowetan showed how she irregularly awarded multimillion rand tenders to undeserving companies, the provincial government announced on Friday that four of the eight scandals investigated by the integrity management unit have been concluded.

"Now we have a prima facie evidence that Nkwinika and other senior officials in the department of public works have squandered over R210 million in irregular tenders," the MEC for public works Clifford Mkasi said yesterday.

The scandals investigated were construction of general wards at Themba hospital, awarding of alterations and additions to a nurses' school at Themba hospital, construction of a new school at the same hospital and construction of Lochiel community centre.

Earlier this year, the unit found that Nkwinika had awarded contracts to Lumkani Construction and Lumekani General Trading, companies that lacked capacity and charged inflated rates.

The companies, that walked away with more than R210 million worth of contracts are owned by Ruth Funi Silinda, who was once married to Premier David Mabuza.

After the finding, the investigators recommended that Nkwinika, along with members of the bid and adjudication committee, be criminally charged.

But Nkwinika was instead shifted to the premier's office.

In an about turn, Mkasi announced on Friday:

"After having duly considered the contents and recommendations contained in the reports, it is hereby confirmed that we have uncovered prima facie evidence of improper conduct.

"The misconduct includes non-compliance by a number of departmental officials, including Nkwinika, regarding certain provisions of the Public Finance Management Act.

"In the light of the recommendations, a decision has been taken to start with disciplinary processes of those officials implicated in the alleged misconduct.

"In this regard, we have already requested that the officials implicated to provide us with written reasons as to why they should not be suspended," Mkasi said.