Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka spent hundreds of thousands of rands of taxpayers’ money on luxury hotels, first class air tickets and on visiting a jailed girlfriend in Switzerland since taking up his Cabinet post in 2008, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.
"Minister Shiceka has abused taxpayers’ money to lead a lifestyle befitting a multimillionaire," reported the newspaper, which claimed to be in possession of "official documents" that showed Shiceka had started his spending spree immediately after being appointed to the Cabinet in September 2008.
The accusations include Shiceka, who has been on sick leave since the beginning of March, and his personal assistant flying first-class to visit his girlfriend in prison in Switzerland at a cost of R335 000.
The minister also allegedly spent R32 000 on hiring a chauffeur-driven limo to take him to the prison.
The newspaper said Shiceka and his staff has spent R640 000 in one year to stay at Cape Town's five star hotel, The One & Only, of which R280 000 was spent "on him alone".
The minister spent another R55 793 for a one night stay at the luxurious hotel during President Jacob Zuma's first State of the Nation speech. He reportedly justified taking a sangoma with him by saying the man was his "father figure".
More than R160 000 was spent in eight months on flying 10 of Shiceka's family members - including his estranged wife and current girlfriend -around the country at taxpayers' expense.
Admits to One & Only stay
The Sunday Times said Shiceka tried to have his department pay a four night R357 120 hotel bill for him, his mother and his bodyguard at the Lesotho Sun in Maseru.
Shiceka told the Sunday Times that he had never been in a limousine or stayed at the Lesotho Sun.
He claimed that all documentary proof presented to him, including invoices, emails and faxes had been doctored or fabricated.
"I have never been in a limousine. I have never stayed in the Lesotho Sun," Shiceka said.
He did, however, admit to spending more than R55 000 for one night at the One and Only.
"What is wrong with that," he asked.
"Every other hotel was full."
He also justified putting up his "father figure" at the One and Only.
"The ministerial handbook allows it," he said.