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Scopa to assess Beitbridge border fence

Public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille
Public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille
Image: Esa Alexander

Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), portfolio committee on public works and infrastructure as well as portfolio committee on home affairs will on Saturday morning undertake a joint oversight visit to the Beitbridge border to assess the construction of the 37km border fence which was procured as part of interventions to fight Covid-19.  

An investigation conducted by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found irregularities related to the 40km fencing project, including costs being inflated by R14m.

The report also found public works minister Patricia de Lille had ordered the project to be handled in terms of the Disaster Management Act instead of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

The PFMA would have allowed for competitive bidding before the tender could be issued, a process not followed in the project intended to curb the illegal movement of people between SA and Zimbabwe to contain the spread of Covid-19.

In a joint statement the committees said they have received briefings individually on procurement and construction of the fence, and subsequent investigations thereof.

“These investigations had highlighted a range of acts of misconduct during procurement and construction of the fence. This is the reason why we have decided to visit the site to assess the work done by the money taken from the national fiscus,” the statement read.

Scopa has called for an in-depth investigation into the minister of public works and infrastructure’s directive on the procurement of the fence.

The committee had also instructed the department to submit a full report on the procurement.

Last month De Lille pledged to allow MPs to study her personal bank accounts to prove she is not corrupt and did not benefit from tender irregularities related to the controversial border fence.

During the meeting, a number of MPs told De Lille “the buck stops with you, minister” after her acting director-general Imtiaz Fazel presented a report in which De Lille was cleared of any wrongdoing in relation to irregularities in the project.

Fazel said the report found De Lille had made an innocent mistake, but 14 others involved in the procurement process would face internal disciplinary charges and the matter would be referred to the police for criminal investigation.

The SIU would continue with its investigations.


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