Mkhwebane' s final report let criminals off the hook - Bapo

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report into Bapo ba Mogale's missing millions falls far short of what the community was expecting.

Activists, including those who complained to Mkhwebane's predecessor Thuli Madonsela in 2012, and other community members criticised Mkhwebane bitterly this week after the final report.

"The report is quite empty," said a visibly disappointed Abbey Mafate, one of the activists who lodged the original complaint.

"We've not achieved our goals as a community. We were expecting change, hoping that justice would be done. It seems we wasted our time."

Mkhwebane released the long-awaited report on Monday last week. It detailed how more than R255-million was spent irregularly from Bapo ba Mogale's "D-account".

Based in Bapong, a mining area in North West, the Bapo ba Mogale are a tribe that has for years demanded answers over how millions paid by mines as royalties into their bank account had disappeared.

Mkhwebane has directed North West premier Supra Mahumapelo to ask the special investigations unit to probe how more than R255-million was paid irregularly to various companies.

The account is administered by the provincial government and the royal council. Mkhwebane found that R115-million of the money was splurged on the construction of a palace for the late chief, Bob Mogale. Only R29.8-million had been budgeted for the palace.

Mafate told Sowetan the community was up in arms, largely because they were expecting Mkhwebane to reflect widely on the looting of the D-account.

"She says nothing about the fact that the account was not being audited by the auditor-general," said Mafate.

He said the report also did not reflect on the findings of an audit conducted by Godfrey Rangongo, a forensic auditor appointed by Madonsela.

"Everything that Madonsela assured us had been done [when she left office] is not reflected in this report."

Freddy Mogale, who also laid a complaint in 2012, said he had given Mkhwebane documents detailing the extent to which the D-account was looted.

"But it looks like she never touched them. There's a whole lot of information that is missing from her report. We want to know why? We're talking a lot of money that her report is not accounting for. We want all that money recovered and the people involved to account," Mogale said.

Dan Mabale, a community elder, said Mkhwebane's report read like a summary of a long-standing, complex issue.

"That woman is supposed to protect our money, but she's bringing a report that looks like a summary of the matter.

"We've been fighting to get audited financial statements of the [D] account. We've never gotten them. Mkhwebane has let a lot of criminals off the hook," said Mabale.

Mkhwebane's spokeswoman Cleopatra Mosene rejected the complaints that the report was not broad enough.

"It is regrettable that the community feels that way. We consulted widely before releasing the report. We did everything in our power that all concerns are addressed," she said.

 

Madonsela did not respond to the request for a comment. - nkosib@sowetan.co.za

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