Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

Advocate Terry Motau has been appointed by human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu to lead a team of lawyers to probe fraud, corruption and irregular expenditure reports, involving her department.

The alleged corruption amounts to more than R16bn.

Motau shot to prominence with his investigation into corruption at VBS Mutual Bank and authored a report on the matter entitled “The great bank heist”.

“I received a report that more than R16bn worth of projects have been issued irregularly, including blanket corruption and fraud by officials, to an extent of awarding tenders to themselves and close relatives,” Sisulu said in a statement on Tuesday. She said the situation had been inherited.

The department was previously led by former minister Nomvula Mokonyane, who was accused by former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi at the state capture inquiry of taking bribes from the now defunct facilities company. Mokonyane has denied all allegations of corruption. 

Sisulu said that there was a lack of consequence management in the department, and as a result many officials implicated in fraud and corruption remained at work or were suspended with pay.

“I have directed advocate Motau and a team that he is going to be working with that I want all reports on fraud, corruption and irregular expenditure of the department and all water boards to be reviewed, and that all recommendations be implemented. Officials and service providers involved in corruption must face the consequences,” Sisulu said.

She said in an address to a virtual meeting of parliament’s human settlements, water and sanitation committee that at the time she took over the department, it had been found by the auditor-general to be bankrupt. There were perceptions of financial mismanagement of the sector with most of the top officials at national and municipal level under investigation.

A total of 48 cases of serious misconduct had been found within the department, of which six involving deputy directors-general and chief directors had been prioritised. These cases involved irregular expenditure contracts with a value of R7bn. Sisulu said the department had lost R1.7bn as a result of fruitless and wasteful expenditure, which required investigation.

The minister also expressed concern over the lack of consequence management at the nine water boards and the lack of proactive investigations into wrongdoing. She had initiated investigations into the Amatola and Lepelle water boards.

“We do intend to turn the fortunes of the department around and make sure we have as clean a record as is possible,” Sisulu said. “We are fully behind the outcomes of the auditor-general and we are following up every case that the auditor-general has put before us.”

Business executive in the auditor-general’s office Andries Sekgetho said in an overview of the audit findings of the department and the water boards that there was inadequate consequence management, with no evidence of disciplinary hearings being undertaken.

He also highlighted the instability in the top leadership of these entities, noting that the department had had more than 13 acting directors-general over the past four to five years. That compromised their ability to undertake long-term strategies.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za