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Probe shows Beitbridge Border project 'overpriced' by R14.3m

The project was commissioned by minister Patricia de Lille in March, shortly after a national state of disaster was declared by the president.

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Hon Patricia De Lille tabling her department budget vote in Parliament on 10 July 2019. Picture: @DepPublicWorks/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - An investigation into the construction of a R37 million fence at the Beitbridge Border post has exposed massive and costly irregularities in the Public Works and Infrastructure Department.

It has now been recommended that disciplinary action be taken against 14 officials following the joint investigation by the department's anti-corruption unit and the Special Investigating Unit, as well as the Auditor-General.

The project was commissioned by minister Patricia de Lille in March, shortly after a national state of disaster was declared by the president.

In a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the border was closed while officials sought to build the 40 kilometre fence while also carrying out repairs.

De Lille has released a preliminary report in which she details procedural and structural flaws in the construction of the Beitbridge Border fence.

The staggering findings so far include the fact that the project, which ended up costing just over R40 million was massively overpriced by R14.3 million. The initial cost was estimated at around R37.1 million.

Both the contractor and principal agent were paid within days of their respective appointments, even though work had not begun.

De Lille said there were also major defects in the design and construction of the fence, making it easy for trespassing.

“I was concerned that while the border fence was the result of an emergency procurement, due process had to be followed and value to money had to be secured.”

It has also been recommended that both the contractor and the agent be prevented from doing any further business with government subject to Treasury’s approval.

The minister said the investigation did not find any evidence of impropriety against her or that she had benefited personally from the controversial project.

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