Madonsela reprimands Joemat-Pettersson

Agriculture Dept has been urged to recover taxpayer's money that was 'wasted' by the minister.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Monday said Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and her staff must be reprimanded for wasting taxpayer's money.

Madonsela stressed that claims of ignorance were no excuse on Tuesday.

The Public Protector found the minister guilty of reckless public spending on two counts.

She also found Joemat-Pettersson had wasted hundreds of thousands of rands on expensive accommodation and overseas trips.

A total of R400,000 worth of guesthouse accommodation was spent, according to the Public Protector and another R100,000 on airplane tickets for her children and their Au pair.

Claims that the minister double booked hotels and did not use ministerial accommodation that was provided to her, were found to be false.

"The minister's defence of ignorance of the costs involved, though accepted, is a cause for serious concern. This displays a blank cheque attitude towards public funds," said Madonsela.

Madonsela has called on the Agriculture Department to find ways to recover the lost funds.