Probe into Beitbridge border fence recommends charges against 14 officials
The investigation report found several alleged procurement and other irregularities, and allegations of fraud committed by the officials, and the border fence project service providers.
JOHANNESBURG – Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille on Saturday revealed that an investigation into the R37 million fence at the Beitbridge border recommended disciplinary charges against 14 senior officials of her department due to alleged acts of misconduct related to the project.
The probe found several alleged procurement and other irregularities, and allegations of fraud committed by the officials, and the border fence project service providers.
In a statement on Saturday, De Lille said the report recommended that the border fence project be brought before the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) Tribunal to pursue civil litigation.
The investigation report – conducted by the Auditor-General and the department's Anti-Corruption Unit assisted by members from the SIU - found that due to the irregular application of the emergency procurement process, there was a projected spend of R40.4 million.
“At all times, the cost of the project communicated to me was in the region of R37.1 million. It was only much later that officials informed me of the additional cost of just over R3.2 million for the Principal Agent for professional services and project management which led to the actual total projected spend being just over R40.4 million,” De Lille said.
The minister said the investigation did not find any evidence of impropriety against her or that she had benefitted personally from the controversial project.
The aim of the project was to repair and replace an existing borderline fence between South Africa and Zimbabwe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the project came under the spotlight because of associated costs that the department had previously defended.
De Lille said a copy of the final report would also be shared with law enforcement agencies, regulatory bodies, and Parliament.