Anti-corruption watchdog to sniff out Free State government

  • The SIU will be launching an investigation into several government departments of the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.
  • In particular, the multi-million Rand Ramskraal Project in the Free State will be under the microscope.
  • Currently, the SIU is also investigating corruption allegations in the Department of Home Affairs, PRASA and NSFAS.

On the weekend, South Africa’s corruption-busting agency, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was set on a path to look into the administration of three different government departments in the Free State province. This is after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed two proclamations authorising the SIU to investigate allegations of “serious maladministration.”

The SIU will investigate the affairs of the Free State Department of Public Works & Infrastructure and Human Settlements and the Free State Provincial Legislature. Additionally, the proclamations also make the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport free game for the agency as well.

Conduct of these four departments between the periods of 1st June 2016 to 23rd February 2024 will be in the scope of the investigation. The SIU is set to sniff out for any signs of maladministration, improper conduct of state employees, stealing of taxpayer money or government property, unlawful tender processes, damage to public property and more.

For the KZN Department of Transport, the SIU will take a special look into the allegations that maladministration took place during the construction of the Mngwenya River, Umlalazi River, Mhlathuze, and Phethu River Bridges.

Meanwhile, for the Free State government, the agency will investigate allegations of irregular procurement processes around the Ramkraal Project. Nearly a decade ago, the Old Ramkraal Prison was allocated more than R120 million for refurbishment and to transform the dilapidated building into a heritage site.

As of 2020, homeless people had moved into the structure for shelter as none of the multi-million Rand plans ever came into effect.

“The SIU will also investigate payments made in a manner that was not fair, competitive, transparent, equitable or cost-effective; or contrary to applicable legislation, and any related unauthorised, irregular, or fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred the State,” reads an announcement from the SIU.

“In addition to investigating maladministration, malpractice, corruption and fraud, the SIU will identify system failures and make systematic recommendations to improve measures to prevent future losses.”

Last week, the SIU, clearly one of the country’s busiest agencies, announced that it would be launching an investigation into the Department of Home Affairs and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

The investigations are under a similar mandate, but in regard to Home Affairs, agents will take a look at how the department issues official documentation, like visas and permits. No deadline or timeframe for either of the investigations has been issued by the SIU.

Last year the agency recovered more than R300 million in lost NSFAS funding that universities and TVET colleges across the country were keeping hold of illegally.


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