How Ukhozi FM lost millions

Bonga Mpanza says his resignation has nothing to do with any probe.
Bonga Mpanza says his resignation has nothing to do with any probe.
Image: Facebook

Former Ukhozi FM station manager Bonga Mpanza has been implicated in corruption involving more than R27m of government funds paid towards the sponsorships of the station's events and campaigns between 2014 and 2018.

Mpanza, who recently resigned from the SABC where he was acting general manager of the organisation in KwaZulu-Natal, is alleged to have used an external company linked to his wife, without any contract, to receive sponsorship funds from various provincial government departments and municipalities in trade exchange deals on behalf of Ukhozi FM. 

However, according to a damning internal forensic investigations report conducted by the SABC into Mpanza's alleged corruption, the money received from the government entities never reached the radio station or the SABC.

The station's sales and marketing, trade exchange and finance departments were not aware of the sponsorships.

The report said Mpanza also got his wife Thembisile's company Intswenga Trading to be hired by the station's service provider to supply branded water at Ukhozi FM events.

As if that was not enough, Mpanza allegedly authored and sent all of Intswenga's invoices to Ukhozi's service provider using the SABC computers and internet.

Investigators also found that through Mpanza's SABC mailbox, a number of payments were made by a service provider to Mpanza's wife's company in various deposits.

And in what was detected as a clear conflict of interest, Mpanza allegedly hired and paid his uncle, Mthembeni Phineas Mpanza, R500 per show to preach on one of the station's religious slots while other church pastors were not paid any money for doing the same work as his uncle.

The investigations, according to the report seen by Sunday World, were conducted after the public broadcaster received numerous complaints against Mpanza by Ukhozi FM staff members.

According to the report, the events in question included the station's 54th birthday celebrations and the summer campaign called Nyus'ivolume, both held in 2014.

The two events attracted a sponsorship amount of R2,6m.

Among the departments that pumped in the money was the provincial department of transport that coughed up R300,000. The provincial department of arts and culture also donated money.

Several municipalities such as Alfred Duma, Nkandla, Umkhanyakude and Msunduzi all contributed R400,000 each towards the birthday gig.

Investigators discovered that the business plan for the two events were all signed and approved by Mpanza in November 2014 while he was the station manager.

However, it was established through the SABC finance department that there were no deposit made by the entities.

"Mr Mpanza could not provide us with the signed Trade Exchange agreements for the above mentioned entities, and the after-action report ... as the accounting officer of the station," reads the report.

The 2018 edition of Nyusi'volume also appears to have been entangled in irregularities , according to the report.

It shows that an amount of R7.7m was paid to Judy Magwaza Trading Enterprises through the instruction of the acting station manager Sbongi Ngcobo.

"This was done three days after the Nyusi'volume event was activated," reads the report.

The investigators found that Ngcobo misled the legal department in her instruction stating that the event was running from December 15 to 31, while the actual date for the event was December 8, 2018.

Ngcobo referred questions to the SABC.

Conflict of interest

The forensic reports states that SABC investigators established that Mpanza's wife Thembisile was a director of Intswenga Trading, including that she was doing business with Magwaza.

"Intswenga supplied bottled water during the Ukhozi FM Nyusi'volume events through Ms Magwaza," the report states.

The report also shows that Mpanza failed to declare his wife's business interests to the SABC.

"We established that Mr Mpanza used SABC resources (internet and email infrastructure) to generate proposals for Intswenga during working hours...," reads the report.

The investigators said Mpanza also generated invoices on behalf of Intswenga Trading and sent them to other entities, using SABC resources during working hours.

In conclusion, the report recommended that disciplinary actions should be taken against Mpanza and Ukhozi FM's current management.

However, before responding to SABC's letter asking him to give reasons why he should not be suspended, Mpanza resigned a day before the deadline set for his response.

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