5 December 2017

South Africa: SA Public Protector Wants Mandela Funeral Funds Probe

South Africa's Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has called for an investigation into the misuse of funds for the funeral of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela.

Ms Mkhwebane called on Finance minister Malusi Gigaba to request President Jacob Zuma to order the corruption-busting Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe the alleged unlawful expenditure of public money four years ago.

She said it was shocking that funds were paid, at inflated rates, to suppliers without verification of delivery of goods or services.

"In one instance, R10 million payment was approved over the phone on direct instructions from the ANC and paid to suppliers," a damning 300-page report by Ms Mkhwebane says.

Ms Mkhwebane noted that those funds were meant for the provision of running water, electricity, sanitation, ablution facilities, the replacement of mud schools and refurbishment of hospitals in one of the country's poorest regions.

She said lack of a proper coordinated plan for state funerals resulted in massive unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

"This weakness was explored and capitalised upon by some service providers who took advantage of the situation and inflated prices. Some submitted invoices and were paid for goods and services, the delivery which was not or could not be verified," she said.

The revelations about the abuse of the public funds comes as South Africans mark four years since the death Mr Mandela.

The Public Protector's report has laid bare details of how officials in Mr Mandela's Eastern Cape home province, went on a spending spree with R330 million ($23.5 million) that was initially allocated for development projects.

Mr Mandela died at the age of 95 on December 5, 2013 after battling a recurring lung infection.

Meanwhile, the Nelson Mandela Foundation marked the day by unveiling an exhibition, called Unthreading Mandela, in his honour.

The Foundation's Sello Hatang called on the world to help preserve the legacy of one of the continent's outstanding statesman.

"It's a significant day for the foundation because we're launching our centenary programme. We are saying to South Africa and the world that all of us should do something to help grow the legacy of Nelson Mandela from 5 December 2017 to 5 December 2018."

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