Public Works DG in funeral fraud scandal
Over R76m spent on ANC stalwarts’ burials
THE Director-General of Public Works, Sam Vukela, is in hot water after the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) demanded answers on the altering of a report implicating him in the funeral fraud scandal for senior political figures in the country.
It was reported last year that service providers were paid more than R76 million to conduct funerals for late Struggle stalwarts Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-Cabinet minister Zola Skweyiya and former chief of state protocol Billy Modise.
But the Department of Public Works has said the prices for the funerals were inflated by the service provider.
Scopa members yesterday wanted to know what action was taken against officials implicated in the tender fraud.
A senior official had named four other officials who were implicated, but left out Vukela’s name.
This angered Scopa members, who demanded answers after a report submitted to Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa had Vukela’s name scratched out.
Hlengwa said they would not tolerate the behaviour of officials who tampered with the report.
“If there is one thing that makes my hair stand on end, it is this behaviour. It is honestly unacceptable. One of the officials implicated is in this room,” he said of Vukela.
Vukela said he had not seen the report and was not aware he was implicated in it.
“I want to put it on record that I agree with you when names of (implicated people) are mentioned, they should be mentioned. My colleague should mention my name. I am not aware I am implicated in anything,” said Vukela.
But Hlengwa said his colleagues were protecting each other. Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille said she was reviewing the funeral system for senior figures in the country.
“I have sought a review of the whole arrangement with the inter-ministerial committee led by minister Jackson Mthembu,” she said.
De Lille said one of the reviews was to put a cap on the funerals declared state or official funerals. She said she had raised this issue with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“When the president declares a funeral an official funeral or a state funeral, I ask officials to immediately inform me,” said De Lille.
She said the Auditor-General had begun the investigation in June last year. She said they engaged auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an investigation into the matter.
A report was submitted in December last year. De Lille told Scopa that Vukela was implicated in the report. She said they needed to act on it. Scopa said they needed a report back from De Lille within the next two weeks.
PATRICIA de Lille.