Top official scot-free over debt

A FORMER top official in the Mpumalanga public works department, who incurred an unnecessary expenditure of R200 000 in a land deal, has gone scot-free.

State lawyers had advised that pursuing the case against the official would "not be cost-effective".

But the select committee on public accounts (Scopa) reckon that letting Thandeka Nkosi get away with this will send the wrong message to other officials thinking of defrauding the state.

"We are not going to let her get away with it," says Scopa chairperson Fish Mahlalela. "We will pursue the matter until the state's money has been recovered."

Nkosi, a former director in the provincial public works department's property management division, incurred the expenditure when she bought the land for R3 million without first having it valued.

After a complaint from the then departmental MEC Candith Mashego-Dlamini about the deal, the land was valued and it was established that it was in fact worth only R1,7million.

The department then created R1,740m debt against Nkosi.

The sale was made in the 2003-04 financial period when the provincial government wanted to build 16 houses for new members of the legislature.

After the land was bought for R3million Mashego-Dlamini went to inspect it and argued that it was not worth the price paid for it.

She ordered the land to be valued and it turned out to be worth R1260000, which meant it had been overvalued by R140000.

Mashego instructed officials to resell the land at R3million but could only get R2800000, which the department accepted. The sale then changed the initial loss of R1,740000 to R200000.

Nkosi was ordered to repay the money. But last week Martin Mokonyama, current head of the public works department, said their attorneys had advised that the case be dropped.