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Public Works must take action - DA

Minister of Public Works has been urged to take tough action against employees found guilty of any crimes.

Minister of Public Works Thulas Nxesi. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - The new Minister of Public Works Thulas Nxesi has been urged to take tough action against employees.

On Tuesday, the minister delivered his maiden budget vote speech in Parliament, Cape Town.

He revealed that 22 lease agreements, worth over R60 million, will be tested in court and hopefully cancelled.

According to the minister, the department was in the processes of a turnaround.

"We have instructed our lawyers to approach the high court to nullify these irregular lease agreements, and institute civil action against whoever unduly benefited," Nxesi said.

Criminal charges were opened against some officials, and more charges were expected soon.

Nxesi added that arrests were looming, following the recent finalisation of criminal investigations.

Meanwhile, Democratic Alliance shadow minister Anchen Dreyer said, "It's good to hear the minister taking a different line, but we still want to see action. There must be accountability and consequences. We want to see criminal charges."

Earlier this week, Auditor General Terence Nombembe criticised government for a breakdown in internal controls.

He said there was a lack of accountability within government.

Nxesi took over from Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, who was axed by President Jacob Zuma in 2011 over the controversial police headquarters deal.

Mahlangu-Nkabinde was dismissed following Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's damning report into the Pretoria and Durban contracts.

The Public Protector's probe revealed that the agreements were unlawful.

National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele was also suspended for his involvement in the lease scandal.