NKWINIKA IN R500m scam

Mpumalanga's controversial public works head Priscilla Nkwinika has been implicated in yet another scandal involving more than half a billion rands.

This was said by the head of the provincial education department Mahlasedi Mohlabane, who was responding to questions by the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Fish Mahlalela, at the legislature yesterday.

Mohlabane did not explain how the money was misused but said that it was destined for building schools and other essential requirements in the education department in the last financial year. She said the total amount was R565318million.

"It appears that the head of the department of public works built schools without authorisation. Some of these did not exist, even though it was reported that they were completed. And those that were built were sub-standard and in a terrible state. Infrastructure projects were also not completed in certain areas," Mohlabane told Scopa.

Mohlabane said a service level agreement allowing public works to implement infrastructure projects for the education department had not been signed since May last year, but that a number of projects were implemented by Nkwinika.

Mohlabane further said that some of the projects Nkwinika reported to have been completed were later proved not to exist.

"It is criminal to report that schools have been built when they are not," said Bonakele Majabu, chairperson of the public works, roads and transport committee.

The public works department yesterday asked for more time from Mahlalela to find out why some of the schools that they reported to have been built did not exist.

It was also revealed that the department of public works, roads and transport has not yet validated the immovable asset register of the education department.

Mohlabane said the education department had already asked for the register and that the roads and transport department had been engaged in the matter so that it can be completed before March 31 next year.

The latest disclosure comes in the wake of reports published by Sowetan about Nkwinika awarding tenders to undeserving companies.

We reported that Nkwinika has in the last two years awarded more than R210million worth of contracts to unfit companies, and has been served with a letter asking her to explain why she should not be suspended.

The companies she awarded the tenders either charged inflated rates, were suspended by the construction board, or did not have the capacity to do the work.