Limpopo disciplinary cases: Anti-Corruption Task Team progress report

NCOP Finance

28 July 2015
Chairperson: Mr CJ De Beer (ANC; Northern Cape)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to hear a presentation by the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) on the progress of the investigations and cases in the Limpopo Province Intervention. The National Treasury in January 2012 identified certain provincial departments as priority areas for the ACTT investigation. These were the Department of Education; Department of Roads and Transport and Road Agency Limpopo (RAL); Department of Health and Social Development; Department of Public Works; and the Provincial Treasury. The ACTT presentation went through each case in each priority area explaining the current status of the cases, whether that be it was in investigation or the case was coming to the end of its legal battle. Many investigations are set to be completed by the end of July, when they will be reevaluated to determine if there is enough legal evidence to take the case to trial or if further investigation is necessary.

Committee members thanked the Task Team for their report and noted that it did not make sense to ask detailed questions in this meeting since most of the cases were still ongoing. They asked for specific details on the tenders, individuals, and companies to be provided at the following meeting in August. Members expressed their desire for this matter to finally be drawn to a conclusion since it first began in January 2012.

Meeting report

The Chairperson reminded the Committee of the 11 November 2014 and 22 April 2015 meetings held with the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) on corruption. These presentations explained that the government’s processes for dealing with criminal and disciplinary cases are slow. Legal technicalities, procedural issues, amongst others, make it difficult to reach finality and achieve accountability.

The Chairperson invited Major General Mthandazo Ntlemeza, Acting Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), to introduce his delegation and make his presentation.

Major General Ntlemeza introduced Major General Zinhle Mnonopi, the newly appointed head of Serious Corruption Initiative, Brigadier Kubandran Moodley, Section Head: Serious Corruption Initiative, as well as Major General Yolisa Matakata, provincial head of the DPCI in the Western Cape.

Major General Ntlemeza said the ACTT comprises various departments: Special Investigating Unit (SIU), National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), State Security, SAPS, Treasury, Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (NICOC), among others. The Major General, as chairperson of the ACTT, can invite any department he feels is needed. The ACTT meets monthly to review the decisions and their implementation. There is also an operational committee as well as the executive committee over it, now chaired by Major General Mnonopi.

ACTT Presentation

Brigadier Kubandran Moodley, Section Head: Serious Corruption Initiative, explained that the report serves to inform the Committee on the status of criminal cases that are with the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) with regards to the Section 100(1)(b) of the RSA Constitution Limpopo Intervention.

The National Treasury identified certain provincial departments as priority areas for the investigations in January 2012. They were the Department of Education, The Department of Transport and Road Agency of Limpopo, the Department of Health and Social Development, the Department of Public Works, and the Provincial Treasury. During the execution of the investigation in Limpopo, ACTT additionally identified the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements, and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA) as another risk area (in respect of developing low-cost housing) for consideration.

As of 28 July 2015, the progress on the cases in the specific priority areas is as follows:

1. Limpopo Section 100 Criminal Cases: Department of Roads and Transport

  • Total number of cases – 14
  • Concluded and judgment issued – 5
  • On trial in court- 4
  • Discharged and judgment under review – 1
  • Still under investigation – 4

Brigadier Moodley went through the details of certain cases (see document). He remarked that in Polokwane CAS 1393/07/2011 (On-Point Leg) that the ACTT expected to get more money.

In Polokwane CAS 1393/07/2011 (Ocean Site Leg), Brigadier Moodley explained that the restraint order lapsed due to a court technicality, but would quickly be rectified. He commented that the defence in this case did everything possible to drag out the case as long as possible.

In six linked cases about a potholes tender, he explained that the work had been completed, but what was being considered in the criminal court was the irregular awarding of tenders.

In Westenburg CAS 41/10/2012 (GAAL) Brigadier Moodley clarified that the case was withdrawn to allow the prosecutor to get more evidence. The case will soon be resubmitted.

The final three cases are follow-ups from the Mankele Bridge case.

2. Limpopo Section 100 Criminal Cases: Department of Health

  • Total number of cases – 14
  • On trial in court – 2
  • Closed and refer for disciplinary charges (DC) proceedings – 8
  • Still under investigation – 4

Brigadier Moodley noted that two firms that were tasked with doing the forensic investigation. These firms indicated there was a lack of evidence to find many of these companies guilty in court, but they could be referred for disciplinary charges.

The cases of Polokwane CAS 583/06/2012 (Mgababa Trading) and Seshego CAS 592/06/2012 (Pharmaceutical Depot) were closed as no crime was detected. These companies, however, could be subject to certain disciplinary actions outside of court.

He noted that for many of these cases, the target date for completion of the investigations is the end of July. At that point, they will be looked at again to see if they need to be reevaluated.

3.  Limpopo Section 100 Criminal Cases: Department of Education

  • Total number of cases – 7
  • In court for trial – 1
  • Closed and referred for DC proceedings – 2
  • Still under investigation – 4

4. Limpopo Section 100 Criminal Cases: Department of Public Works

  • Total number of cases – 4
  • Still under investigation – 1
  • Closed and refer for DC proceedings – 2
  • Forensic report of NT under review – 1

Brigadier Moodley clarified that Polokwane CAS 619/05/2012 was provisionally withdrawn awaiting the forensic report that is now in draft form.

5. Additional new cases as a result of the Limpopo Intervention since the last presentation

Brigadier Moodley noted four cases which were new since the last presentation including a Department of Education feeding scheme and COGHSTA. He added that Polokwane CAS 141/12/2013 (Data Master Various Departments) involved Standard Bank.

The Chairperson thanked the Brigadier and reiterated that good governance and sound financial management are the goals of this entire process. He noted that Limpopo province will return on the 12th with a Monitoring and Evaluation team.

Discussion

Mr F Essack (DA; Mpumalanga) commented that this is a huge matter involving billions, but a lot of the cases are still coming up in the next 30-60 days. However he asked about the cases which had been withdrawn or cases that did not end as the task team would have liked. He asked that the next report be a concrete report that showed those results. This has been dragging on since January 2012. He would like finality to this issue.

Mr S Mohai (ANC; Free State) agreed with Mr Essack that this is a work in progress and that there needed to be results on these issues. These cases are very high profile and when they are finally resolved, faith in the province and the democracy can be restored.

Ms E Van Lingen (DA; Eastern Cape) was shocked by the numbers. She would like to know the names of the two forensic firms mentioned in the presentation. She asked in the case of withdrawn and closed cases, were there on site inspections? She said it looks like a lot of people are getting away with murder. Is it customary of the courts to blacklist officials who have done wrong? There is a register of the companies that the government should not do business with. They are put on this list by court order. She asked if the task team could ask its prosecutors to seek the blacklisting so that the government can move forward and be forewarned of companies that perennially cause these issues.

The Chairperson said the Committee will have a meeting with the Chief of Procurement and he will be able to answer her questions.

Mr V Mtileni (EFF; Limpopo) said that the important part of what exactly the funds were earmarked for is missing from the report. He asked that for the next meeting, the task team could prepare exactly what the money was for. He asked for the specific judgment and punishment that was being handed out to offenders.

Ms T Motara (ANC; Gauteng) thanked them for their work, the movement, and improvement since last year’s report. She is glad these cases are coming to an end. The individual cases must be concluded so that all of this can come to an end.

Major General Ntlemeza answered that the firms auditing the forensic investigation are SizweNtsalubaGobodo and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The Task Team will elaborate on these audits at the following meeting. He agreed that it was a critical job to first determine whether there is a case or not, and then it was important to reach finality with these cases.

Major General Mnonopi talked about how the Task Team is currently working on the blacklisting of companies to avoid awarding tenders to unfit companies.

Brigadier Moodley said the task team will give feedback at the next meeting regarding the reasons for the withdrawal of cases. He said that prosecutors need to ask for blacklisting. He added that the Task Team works with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) to enact its disciplinary actions and blacklisting outside of just government tenders.  He will also bring the exact things done for these tenders, adding that in some cases, the work was done entirely, it was just the irregular awarding of the tenders that is under investigation.

The Chairperson noted the importance of investigating the irregularities in awarding tenders since compliance with procedures is the law.

Mr Gaehler (UDM; Eastern Cape) mentioned that it takes two parties to be involved in corruption. He asked about the government-paid consultants who manage and monitor projects and how do they fit into the corruption.

The Chairperson said that the amount that the consultants make can be seen in the financial statements of the annual reports of departments.

Brigadier Moodley said that in some cases, the consultancy firms were involved in some of the corrupt tenders, and if this is found they are charged as well.

Adoption of minutes from previous meetings

The minutes from 10, 17 and 19 June were reviewed and adopted.

Mr Essack asked whether the requested reports mentioned in 6.1 and 6.2 of the 17 June minutes were received within seven days as prescribed. The Chairperson answered they had not been received and that he would follow up.

Review of Committee Programme

Questions were asked about whether the Committee will have a meeting with the Minister of Finance, to which the Chairperson answered they were still working on scheduling but they expected a visit.

The meeting was adjourned.

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