On the spot: Home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni answers questions on the process followed in granting naturalisation to the Gupta family. Picture: THE TIMES
On the spot: Home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni answers questions on the process followed in granting naturalisation to the Gupta family. Picture: THE TIMES

Steady progress is being made in the investigation of irregular contracts for security services at various home affairs facilities around the country, Department of Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni assured Business Day on Thursday.

Apleni flagged R145m spent on security services in the department’s 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years, which is now being probed and would otherwise have been considered irregular expenditure.

However, he said, if wrongdoing were uncovered, guilty officials would face sanctions is as there was little chance of impropriety on the part of the businesses contracted.

Apleni is back at the helm of home affairs after he and former minister Hlengiwe Mkhize were at each other’s throats in 2017, and is likely to find a sympathetic colleague in the current minister, Ayanda Dlodlo.

Apleni said the department was probing breach of procedural guidelines on the part of home affairs officials and not necessarily wrongdoing on the part of businesses that landed the contracts.

"We are progressing but this has steps to it. The first step is to get a report from the audit firm, and based on that we will go to affected people and show them the report to see what they would like to do," said Apleni. Government departments normally had 60 days after the conclusion of such an investigation to finalise disciplinary process against anyone who had been implicated in wrongdoing in the matter, he said.

"The team will determine, based on the results, who has a case to answer. We have not finalised [the probe]. It is not necessarily of fraud but an issue of not following procurement procedure," he said.

Apleni was placed under precautionary suspension by Mkhize in September.

The department’s project manager, Jackson Mackay, served as the acting director-general in Apleni’s absence.

In the annual report Apleni said the department had incurred R75m in irregular expenditure in the 2016-17 financial year and R70.5m in the previous financial year, largely due to security services procured through a tender process.

magubanek@businesslive.co.za

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