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Zuma authorises SIU probe of Correctional Services Dept

The SIU will be able to investigate a number of allegations including the unlawful appropriation of public money.

Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has authorised the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe certain procurement issues at the Correctional Services Department.

The SIU will be able to investigate a number of allegations including the unlawful appropriation of public money.

The Presidency's Bongani Ngqulunga says: “They involved, in the main, some security work that was done by some consultants. There are some complaints that due process was not followed in the awarding of that tender."

In June, Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) raised concerns over the financial stability of Correctional Services, which is apparently facing bankruptcy.

During a Scopa meeting, it emerged that the department has incurred nearly a half a billion rand in irregular expenditure since 2011.

This also includes the controversial R378 million prison security contract with Integrated Solutions which was found to be irregular by Treasury.

Scopa has raised concern over what it calls the slow pace of Correctional Services' investigations into cases of irregular expenditure amounting to R494 million.

The department apparently also used up its budget for the year and is unable to settle debt of R134 million owed to suppliers.

There are also allegations of corruption and conflict of interest cases being probed by the SIU regarding contracts awarded to department employees.

The African National Congress’ study group in the committee describes the situation as mismanagement and says the lack of accountability from officials is disturbing.

It is demanding Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha take action against National Commissioner Zach Modise and other senior officials.

Additional reporting by Xolani Koyana.