- A recent report has exposed a scandal facing the international relations department involving the procurement of land in New York
- The department allegedly paid R118 million upfront for a plot of vacant land in the city to house its operations overseas
- However, it emerged that the plot of land was not vacant but housed a dilapidated and 'unsuitable' building on it instead
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A recent report has lifted the lid on allegations that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation spent R118 million to purchase a vacant piece of land which does not actually exist.
The funding has since lost the funds which had been allocated to build office space and accommodation for the nation's permanent missions to the US.
Members of Parliament travelled to the bustling city of New York last year to discover that the piece of land in question doesn't exist.
Meanwhile, the department has been paying over R4 million for two missions to the city which had prompted the original decision to acquire the property.
A draft report by Parliament's portfolio committee on international relations and cooperation, seen by News24, revealed that the hefty sum had been used on an 'unsuitable old building':
"There was no vacant land on inspection of the New York pilot project, but what exists is an unsuitable old building, and R118 million has already been paid for buying the purported site/vacant land parcel."
News24 further reported that a top DIRCO executive had revealed that the department had cancelled the procurement process to acquire office space in the city.
Earlier, Briefly.co.za reported that South Africa's ambassador to Italy seems to have been getting up to no good after a guilty conviction.
Shirish Soni has had his salary docked for three months after being found guilty of financial irregularities and misrepresenting his academic qualifications.
The former SARS senior official is facing four counts of misconduct related to sexual harassment, misrepresentation of his qualifications, financial irregularities and 'compromising the mission's security'.
Born in Durban, Soni worked at the South African Revenue Service during Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan's tenure as commissioner.
IOL reports that Soni's suspension letter stated that he had noted the incorrect dates when it came to his matric, with the Department of Basic Education confirming that the ambassador didn't graduate in 1974 as he claimed.
Soni is in hot water after breaching the Department of International Relations and hiring an Italian intern:
“You are found guilty on this charge for ignoring guidance that was provided to you by head office management and continued to hire or bring an Italian national as an intern or volunteer at the South African Embassy in Rome thus compromising Mission security.”
A DIRCO official says Soni would often brag about his alleged close ties to the minister:
“Soni always threatened embassy officials by telling them that he is untouchable as he is friends with Minister Pravin.”
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