R2,5m official now calls it quits

AN official accused of diverting R2,5m in social security funds to a Christmas party at President Jacob Zuma's rural home has resigned.

AN official accused of diverting R2,5m in social security funds to a Christmas party at President Jacob Zuma's rural home has resigned.

South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) chief executive officer, Fezile Makiwane lodged his resignation letter with Social Development Minister Edna Molewa four days ago.

Makiwane hit the headlines a year ago when allegations surfaced that he had authorised SASSA to donate R2,5 million from an RDP fund to Durban businessman Mabheleni Ntuli. Ntuli spent the money on a childrens' Christmas party at Nkandla.

Molewa placed Makiwane on special leave six months later in July 2009.

But a source close to the investigation claimed that there was a witch-hunt against Makiwane. The source said attorneys Bowman Gilfillan had already cleared Makiwane of the party charges three months before Molewa put him on special leave.

Makiwane had only agreed to go on leave for four months.

"At the end of the four months, November 15, Makiwane notified Molewa he was resuming his duties. On the same day, she extended his leave forcefully without explanations," said the source.

At the time Molewa said Makiwane would remain suspended until he came up with an explanation. This despite the auditor-general having given SASSA a clean bill of health in 2007 and 2008, said the source.

The last straw for Makiwane came last week when Molewa renewed the contract of acting SASSA chief executive officer Coceko Pakade.

In his resignation letter to Molewa, Makiwane said "negative aspersions have been cast on my integrity in the public mind. No valid reasons were advanced for my suspension".

Molewa's spokesperson, Zanele Mngadi, said a special unit was was still investigating the matter.

"The minister will comment when she is ready, " she said.

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