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Environment dept officials suspended following forensic investigation

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has placed eight officials on precautionary suspension following a forensic investigation into contracts allegedly irregularly awarded by the Waste Management Bureau.

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The Waste Management Bureau’s mandate, among others, is to promote and facilitate minimisation, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste, and disburse of revenue collected from waste management charges.

According to the department, during the audit of the financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2019, the Auditor-General (AG) identified several tenders that were irregularly awarded.

“These included nine tenders awarded by the Waste Management Bureau, with a total multi-year contract value of R2,105,168,218.93 and expenditure for the 2018/19 financial year amounting to R337,006,699.80,” the department said on Thursday, 8 October.

Minister Barbara Creecy then mandated the then director-general, Nosipho Ngcaba, to institute an investigation.

Areas covered by investigation

“The investigation needed to cover areas such as whether any losses were suffered by the department; whether the department received value for money, and whether any officials or third parties had committed any acts of fraud and/or corruption,” the department explained.

The probe also had to look into whether anyone can be held liable in law for the irregular expenditure.

An independent forensic investigation company was appointed and subsequently found that there was some wrongdoing on the part of the department’s bureaucrats.

Disciplinary steps under way

“With regard to six of the nine tenders, with a combined value of R1,282,850,820.61, the investigation found prima-facie evidence illustrating irregular appointments arose as a result of negligence, misconduct and/or possible fraud and corruption by certain officials of the department,” the department said.

The department is in the process of taking disciplinary steps in respect of the misconduct identified in the report.

It said all system recommendations outlined in the report will be implemented in due course.

With regards to the three remaining tenders valued at R822,317,398.32, the investigation found no evidence to indicate wrongdoing by officials or loss suffered by the department.

“It was found that the department received value for money. As such, the department will seek condonation from National Treasury for the irregular expenditure incurred in that regard,” the department said.

SOURCE is a South African government news service, published by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS). (formerly BuaNews) was established to provide quick and easy access to articles and feature stories aimed at keeping the public informed about the implementation of government mandates.

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