- Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has let everyone who benefited from a questionable R39 million Nelson Mandela memorial service off the hook
- Instead, Mkhwebane found that the director-general who approved the irregular payments should face the music alone
- A senior government official has questioned the Public Protector's decision, adamant that the state may have paid for services they never received
The Public Protector has decided to give officials implicated in a dodgy deal a pass, save for the director-general who gave it the green light.
Of the R39 million awarded to Carol Bouwer Productions for a Nelson Mandela memorial event, R18 million had been pocketed by controversial businessperson Mabheleni Ntuli, who had passed some of the funds on the Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, one of Jacob Zuma's wives.
Mkhwebane has ordered that former Mpumalanga director-general Nonhlanhla Mkhize, who has moved over to serve as KwaZulu-Natal's director-general, must take the fall for the irregular 2013 contract.
Despite R18 million going to Ntuli, Mkhwebane has opted to focus solely on the director-general, overlooking a 2014 treasury report which recommended an investigation into the transactions between Bouwer and Ntuli.
Treasury had found that Bouwer had paid out four instalments of R4.5 million into the bank account of a company owned by Ntuli, which had only had R5 000 beforehand.
Just days after receiving the funds, Ntuli had spent a whopping R5 million on a luxury car dealership.
Later on, R55 000 had been paid from Ntuli's account into the account of Ntuli-Zuma, with her lawyer claiming that this had been a gift.
Despite Bouwer failing to provide the names of officials who had approved the payments and who had accepted deliveries for catering, and no evidence of the recording itself, Mkhwebane had opted to overlook her involvement:
“The office of the premier, in their letter dated 25 April 2019, stated that the ‘department does not have the recordings of the events’ and that ‘no information is available’ on the invitation of the honourable premier by the churches."
The Mail and Guardian reports that a senior government official questioned why Mkhwebane did not look into the matter, with a high possibility that the state paid for goods they never received:
“The agreement signed between Carol Bouwer Productions and the accounting officer states the following: ‘All invoices submitted in respect of functions performed shall be accompanied by certified copies of original documentary proof emanating from the entity concerned with whom Carol Bouwer has contracted’, [but] there is no such evidence.”
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