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Mkhwebane to demand action against officials in ‘Mandela funeral millions scandal’

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is expected to demand that action be taken against senior Eastern Cape politicians‚ public servants and municipal officials‚ who are accused of misusing millions of rand meant for the burial of former president Nelson Mandela.

The findings are contained in a draft report Mkhwebane sent to all those implicated in a complex scam that allegedly siphoned millions of rand from the public purse in the days leading up to and after the funeral of Mandela at his ancestral home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape in December 2013.

Mkhwebane is expected to release her report on Monday afternoon after three years of investigating how about R65-million was allegedly spent without going through proper supply chain management processes.

Some of the money allegedly found its way into the bank accounts of prominent politicians‚ local business people and council officials.

Officials were allegedly treated to luxury stays at hotels and posh cars.

The controversy‚ dubbed the ‘Mandela funeral millions scandal’‚ came to light after an investigation by Daily Dispatch‚ a sister publication of TimesLIVE‚ just weeks after the struggle icon was laid to rest.

The investigation implicated Pumlani Mkolo‚ former secretary of the Dr RW Rubasane region (formerly known as Buffalo City Metro)‚ who was fingered as the alleged mastermind of the scandal. His then girlfriend‚ Zintle Nkuhlu‚ allegedly received R350‚000 from the funds‚ earmarked for the late president’s memorial services and funeral in December 2013. She is believed to have used this money to buy herself a BMW X6.

The investigation also revealed that R250‚000 was paid into the personal account of former Finance MEC Phumlo Masualle‚ now the Eastern Cape Premier.

The investigation led to the arrest of a number of politicians and business people‚ including former Buffalo City mayor Zukiswa Ncitha‚ former deputy mayor Temba Tinta‚ former council speaker Luleka Simon-Ndzele‚ councillor Sindiswa Gomba‚ senior BCM official Ondela Mahlangu‚ businesswoman Viwe Vazi and businessman Dean Fanoe.

In her draft report‚ Mkhwebane recommends that the Buffalo City Metro Municipality take action against Simon-Ndzele and Gomba for their “inappropriate conduct”.

Gomba was allegedly illegally transported and accommodated by the municipality while attending Mandela’s memorial in Port Elizabeth in 2013.

“[The municipality] must recover from Gomba the amount equivalent to her transportation and accommodations in Port Elizabeth whilst attending the provincial memorial service of President Mandela‚” the remedial action reads.

The draft report further orders that the municipal manager take disciplinary action against then chief financial officer Vincent Pillay for the indiscretion that occurred when a company called Victory Ticket 750 CC was irregularly appointed to provide services during the mourning period.

“The transportation and accommodation of councillor Gomba and her team as well as ANC region staff … to attend the provincial memorial service held in Port Elizabeth at the expense of BCM was inappropriate and same constitutes improper conduct‚” part of the report reads.

The draft report also found that Ncitha misled the BCM Council in identifying funds for mourners to be transported to the venues for memorial services.

“The funding for the project of transporting BCM mourners to the memorial services amounting to R10-million was not budgeted for‚ instead‚ the said amount was diverted from the Indigent Subsidy Programme intended to assist the needy communities who could not afford municipal services and used to pay for services rendered by Victory Tickets 750 CC in respect hiring of taxis and buses‚” Mkhwebane finds.

The full report is expected to be released on Monday afternoon.

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