Ntombela takes action following damning PP report

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Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela has officially reported the conduct of the Human Settlements Head of Department to the Free State Police Commissioner.

This, after a damning report by the Public Protector. The report, which focused on the controversial asbestos housing contract awarded to the Gauteng-based Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill Trading joint venture, made waves last month when Busisiwe Mkhwebane found the department guilty of failing to follow proper procurement procedures.

She, in the report, outlined that the provincial department participated in an expired contract of the Gauteng Human Settlements Department, and failed to conduct a due diligence investigation before participating in this contract.

Mkhwebane said the province was in possession of the Gauteng Department’s Service Legal Agreement, which had expired, and went ahead to pay the service provider an amount of R139 million despite the Auditor-General having declared the procurement as irregular as early as 31 July 2015.

She said their findings also indicated that the service provider had subcontracted the contract at a fee of just over R21 million, while the service provider walked away with R230 million.

As part of her remedial actions, Mkhwebane had recommended that Ntombela take the appropriate steps to ensure that the conduct of the accounting officer is investigated and that the matter be reported to the South African Police Service and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations.

In a statement dated June 9, Ntombela’s office officially states that “in compliance with the remedial action, as determined by the Public Protector, the Premier has duly handed over the report of the Public Protector to Lieutenant General Motswenyane, Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS), and Brigadier Gerber, representing the Provincial Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation”.

“The remaining aspects of the remedial action are being dealt with in terms of the prescribed internal processes,” read the statement.

Mkhwebane in her investigative report highlighted that “the Department created the impression that they participated in a contract concluded by another state institution [Gauteng Department] while the services were not the same as specified in the existing contract and also the price was higher.”

She said this was in contravention of Treasury regulations and amounts to improper conduct.

Mkhwebane highlighted that the department did not receive value for money and that the accounting officer and all officials involved must be investigated.

The Free State Department of Human Settlements has to date not responded to OFM News’ set of questions regarding its plan of action following the damning Public Protector’s report.

OFM News/KATLEHO MORAPELA