MPs doubtful that suspended KZN prisons boss is sole mastermind in dodgy contracts worth R92m

'The department needs to be brutally honest with us as to how many other people are involved': EFF MP Yoliswa Yako

Suspended KZN prisons boss Mnikelwa Nxele.
Suspended KZN prisons boss Mnikelwa Nxele.
Image: Jackie Clausen

MPs have cast doubt on allegations that suspended KwaZulu-Natal correctional services commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele was working solo in laundering millions of rand in the awarding of 19 irregular tenders.

Nxele has been on suspension since December 2019 as a result of two separate investigations against him, one of which was ordered by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

Speaking at the portfolio committee on justice on Wednesday, national commissioner of correctional services Arthur Fraser said Nxele's suspension had been necessary to “ensure [the] safety and wellbeing of witnesses”.

“He is charged for various acts of misconduct in relation to the disciplinary referrals from the SIU in relation to, inter alia, procurement irregularities of contracts,” he said.

The total estimated value of the contracts was R92m, said Fraser.

However, MPs have called on the department to release the names of those implicated alongside Nxele.

“The department really needs to be brutally honest with us as to how many other people are actually involved and not just have this one sacrificial person that the department is headlining as if it's doing something to combat corruption ... It cannot only be Mr Nxele who was acting alone, and we know that is not a fact,” said EFF MP Yoliswa Yako. 

ANC MP Nomathemba Maseko-Jele echoed similar sentiments.

“If you do not have that information now, that is fine, but we want it. Because there is no way that one person can be the one being sacrificed in this matter,” Maseko-Jele said.

Fraser and his team would not be drawn into revealing details of the investigations, saying some information was sensitive and releasing it could jeopardise the strength of the department's case.     

They noted that Nxele was on multiple occasions given an opportunity to respond to allegations levelled against him but did not. Instead he brought various court applications to challenge his suspension.  

In 2019, former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi implicated Nxele in his testimony at the state capture inquiry. He alleged that Nxele accepted bribes from controversial prisons security firm Bosasa to the value of about R57,500 a month.

His disciplinary case was expected to continue on June 22 at the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council (GPSSBC).

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