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Parliament welcomes SIU raid over failed Giyani water project

The offices of Lepelle Northern Water were raided by the SIU amid allegations of corruption in a Giyani water project. Stock image.
The offices of Lepelle Northern Water were raided by the SIU amid allegations of corruption in a Giyani water project. Stock image.
Image: 123rf.com/Riccardo Lennart Niels Mayer

Parliament's water and sanitation committee on Monday welcomed a raid by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on the Lepelle Northern Water Board offices in Polokwane.

The raid comes amid allegations of corruption in an incomplete multibillion-rand water infrastructure project in the Giyani area. 

“All allegations of corruption must be investigated and concluded so that if there is any unlawful activity, adequate consequences are meted out. It is unacceptable that the project has not been concluded since its launch in 2014, which robs residents of much-needed water,” said committee chair Machwene Semenya.

At least one person died as a result of the incomplete project. The boy was alleged to have been fatally injured when he fell into a trench dug by a contractor earlier this year.

The Democratic Alliance also welcomed the raid.

“The R3.5bn project was intended to supply water to Giyani and surrounding villages, but for the past eight years, around 50 villages around Giyani have had no clean drinking water,” said DA spokesperson Jacques Smalle.

“Currently residents have to walk for up to 5km to carry contaminated water back to their houses,” he added.

Smalle blamed the government, saying corruption and irregular expenditure had left the people of Giyani suffering.

“It’s clear the department of water and sanitation has failed the people of Giyani.

"Lepelle Northern Water Board’s mandate was the implementation of the regional bulk infrastructure, operations and maintenance thereof,” he said. Instead, the project was abandoned after the department allegedly failed to pay the contractor.

Smalle expressed confidence that the SIU investigation would yield results.

Sowetan earlier spoke to SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago, who explained how they were forced to conduct the raid.

"We are here to look for a list of documents that will assist us in completing our investigations. We have been asking for the documents and Lepelle Northern Water has been refusing to give them to us, hence we obtained a court order for raid and seizure," he said.

The state water implementing agency was not co-operating with the investigation, he said. 

"Some of the senior officials even went to court in an attempt to stop the investigation."

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