The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has placed eight officials on precautionary suspension, effective from 8 October 2020. The suspension follows a forensic investigation into contracts alleged to have been irregularly awarded by the Departments' Waste Management Bureau.
During the audit of the financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2019, the Auditor-General of South Africa ("the AG") identified a number of tenders which were irregularly awarded. These included 9 (nine) tenders awarded by the Waste Management Bureau with a total multi-year contract value of R2 105 168 218, 93 and expenditure for the 2018/19 financial year amounting to R337 006 699, 80
The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy, mandated the then Director General, Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, to institute an investigation in order to ascertain the reasons for the tenders being irregularly awarded.
The investigation needed to cover areas such as whether any losses were suffered by the Department; whether the Department received value for money; whether any officials/ third parties had committed any acts of fraud and/or corruption; and whether any person/s can be held liable in law for the irregular expenditure. An independent forensic investigation company was appointed to conduct the investigation.
With regard to six of the nine tenders, with a combined value of R1 282 850 820.61, the investigation found prima-facie evidence illustrating irregular appointments arose as a result of negligence, misconduct and/or possible fraud and corruption by certain officials of the Department.
The Department is in the process of taking disciplinary steps in respect of misconduct identified in the report. All system recommendations outlined in the forensic investigation report, will also be implemented in due course.
With respect to the three (3) remaining tenders, with a combined value of R822 317 398.32, the investigation found no evidence to indicate misconduct by officials or loss suffered by the Department. It was found that the Department received value for money. As such, the Department will seek condonation from National Treasury for the irregular expenditure incurred in that regard.