Friday, March 18, 2011

R24m Spent on Premier’s Home

R24m spent on premier’s home

March 17 2011 

The Gauteng government has spent about R24-million on the premier’s official residence in just seven years.
The house, in Bryanston, was bought in March 2004 for R11.5m.
But the province has spent R12.2m – more than the original purchase price – in renovations, refurbishments and repairs even though the house was only a few years old when Gauteng bought it.
The Sandton property is managed by the provincial Department of Infrastructure Development.
The original house, in Eccleston Crescent, was demolished by previous owners and replaced with a new house, based on plans drawn up in 1999.
These show a 1 150m2 double-storey building, complete with a rimflow pool built over a playroom, several reception rooms, four bedrooms upstairs and a guest suite downstairs.
The property was bought for Gauteng while Mbhazima Shilowa was premier. Premier Nomvula Mokonyane uses it now.
The amount spent since the purchase was revealed when DA MPL Jack Bloom asked questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
“It’s all quite obscene when ordinary people struggle in difficult economic circumstances,” said Bloom.
Infrastructure Development MEC Bheki Nkosi told the legislature that when the house was initially bought, renovations and alterations were done to the main house, the conference facilities and parking area.
These had cost R8.4m.
Then, in December 2008, structural damage in the form of cracks in the house were found.
“The cracks led to water damage (carpets, window frames, paint flaking etc) in the house, which needed to be repaired,” said Nkosi.
These repairs, based on a report by consulting engineers, cost R1.7m.
“The department is not in possession of the report,” Nkosi said.
He said Motheo Tau Pride was appointed as managing agent for the structural repairs contract. It, in turn, “outsourced” the repairs to Rekgonne Business Enterprise. Motheo was paid R464 615 of the R1.7m.
Nkosi said this work involved repainting the outside of the house and rooms where renovations were done, replacing stained carpets, removing tiles and re-screeding the floors, waterproofing the roof, repairing and painting ceilings, renovating the wooden front door, and renovating the conference centre.
The work did not go to a Gauteng business. The Star found that Rekgonne is based in Mafikeng, North West.
According to the Construction Industry Development Board, Rekgonne has a grade 1 listing that allows it to handle government contracts up to R200 000. For a contract worth more than R1m, Rekgonne needed a grade 3 listing.
The department spent another R2m refurbishing the house for Mokonyane.
Last year, then MEC Faith Mazibuko told the legislature in response to a question by Bloom that this work ran from September 2009 to January 2010. It included refurbishing the main bedroom and en-suite bathroom, dressing room, kitchen, laundry, painting, and curtains, bedding and furniture. 

Mayor and City Boss to be Probed

Mayor and city boss to be probed

Mar 17, 2011 

Durban mayor Obed Mlaba and city manager Mike Sutcliffe are to be investigated as part of a wider probe into alleged fraud and corruption in the eThekwini Municipality. 

KwaZulu-Natal co-operative governance MEC Nomusa Dube said yesterday: "There is something wrong in this municipality and we believe that we need to investigate.
"We have been monitoring the latest developments in the municipality with keen interest and utmost concern."
The ANC called on Dube to order a forensic investigation after the auditor-general found that the city had irregularly spent R535-million and the Ngubane audit implicated Sutcliffe and three officials in irregular housing contracts of R3.5-billion over the past 10 years.
Mlaba allegedly had shares in a company that nearly landed a R3-billion tender to convert the city's waste to energy.
Dube said yesterday the investigation would cover:
�Irregular expenditure resulting from inadequate controls over the budget and payment processes;
�Non-disclosure of interests by councillors and officials;
�Irregularities in the awarding of contracts, payments and performance management of telecommunications;
�The alleged illegal rental and sale of RDP houses;
�Irregularities in travel and overtime allowances and appointment of staff; and
�Alleged fraudulent practices in the metro police.
The outcome of the investigation would compel the municipality to take decisive action and corrective measures and would lead to criminal and civil prosecutions if unlawful activities were unearthed, Dube said.
The forensic probe would begin immediately.

E'Thekweni suffers from poor service delivery and has been rated the second worst metro in SA - after Pretoria.

What will be done if the graft is exposed? Nothing at all since the matter would be handled by the incompetent Budgies - whose main aim is to protect corrupt cadres.


SA not Dysfunctional, says Chabane

SA not dysfunctional, says Chabane

March 17, 2011 

Government has slammed a constitutional watchdog for claiming the country is on the brink of becoming a dysfunctional state

Collins Chabane, Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation based at the Presidency, told journalists in Cape Town yesterday that the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution's intentions were not about building democracy.
Casac is a civil society watchdog body chaired by Sipho Pityana and has "progressive people" such as former ANC MP Kader Asmal and former national assembly speaker Frene Ginwala as members and advisers.
Former national director of public prosecutions Vusi Pikoli is also a member.
On Wednesday, Pityana said corruption and patronage were so pervasive in the country that "we are on the verge of being deemed a dysfunctional state".
He urged government to establish a new state-funded statutory body to fight corruption.
But Chabane said government rejected any insinuations that the country is nearing becoming a dysfunctional state.
"Government believes that Casac's intentions are not that of trying to build a democracy we all live by," Chabane said.
He said while government was prepared to discuss the issue of corruption with Casac, Pityana's "rhetoric" was not helpful.
He went on to say that Pityana's "emotive language" did little to take forward the debate on how government should be tackling corruption.
Chabane pointed out that in the last two years, the Zuma administration has "reinvigorated its efforts to deal more effectively with corruption".
He cited the finance ministry's overhaul of government's procurement systems and the establishment of a ministerial committee on corruption as some of the steps being taken to fight corruption.
Pityana last night stood his ground, saying steps pursued by Zuma's cabinet did not go far enough in tackling corruption.
Pityana said several anti-corruption laws, like the Protected Disclosures Act, also needed to be tightened.


Cop Brutality Cases Investigated

ICD wades through cop brutality cases


Johannesburg - The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) on Thursday said it was investigating reports of brutality on civilians by special police units.

"We are ready to investigate and help bring the culprits to book," spokesperson Francois Beukman said in a statement.

Police officers recently allegedly assaulted civilians at a pub and restaurant in Johannesburg.

On February 26, police allegedly stormed the Catz Pyjamas restaurant in Melville and beat up patrons.

Several days later members of a special police unit allegedly assaulted, intimidated and threatened patrons at CJ's bar in Hillbrow.

The ICD was also investigating cases in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.

Elite team charged with torture

In November last year, fifteen tactical response team and crime intelligence members were arrested for murder in KwaZulu-Natal.

"In the past year, the ICD arrested and brought before court more than 20 officers from various Organised Crime Units for torture," Beukman said.

The tactical response team, an elite team personally commissioned by police commissioner General Bheki Cele, had mostly been fingered as culprits in allegations ranging from assault and torture to murder, Beukman said.

"These acts cannot be tolerated in a constitutional democracy. Policing in 2011 should be totally different from the apartheid past that we come from."

The ICD urged victims and witnesses to make statements at a police station so that criminal cases could be opened against perpetrators.

Beukman said information provided would be treated with discretion, with no risk of interference by any police officers.

Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele

Zuma to decide on Cele matter


Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma will decide what action to take against police commissioner General Bheki Cele once he's received all outstanding information from Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Cabinet Secretary Vusi Mavimbela regarding the matter.
"I've received the public protector's report and I am studying it. I am awaiting reports from the minister of justice and constitutional development and the secretary of Cabinet.
"Once I've received all outstanding reports I shall decide what steps, if any, need to be taken," said Zuma.
He was responding to a question from the Democratic Alliance in the National Assembly as to whether Cele's conduct, in light of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's finding, was improper, unlawful and amounted to maladministration, and whether Cele was fit to serve the country in his current capacity.
Madonsela announced in February that Cele was guilty of improper conduct and maladministration when the police authorised a R500m lease for the Sanlam Middestad Building in Pretoria, to be used as their new headquarters.
She said Cele's conduct breached the Constitution, the Public Finance Management Act, Treasury regulations and supply chain management rules and policies.
Radebe and Mavimbela had met Madonsela over her findings and would submit a report on the meeting soon.
Zuma said he was not in a position to "fully" answer the question at this stage, as "it would be tantamount to pre-judging".
The government would co-operate with the public protector and take the matter to its "conclusion".
"If a person is found guilty, you convict. If the person is not found guilty, you can't convict," said Zuma.
"Depending on the gravity of the crime committed, [it will] describe or determine what type of action you take."