R37 million Beit Bridge border fence not fit for purpose: Scopa chair

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Members of the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Home Affairs, conducted an inspection in loco at the controversial R37 million Beit Bridge border post fence, outside Musina, in Limpopo.

The parliamentarians were led and guided by members of the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) and the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Committee.

The 40km stretch of the fence is damaged and full of holes where illegal foreigners pass when they cross. It is also of a poor standard; not meant border fencing.

Border jumping continues at the Beit Bridge Border: 

Members of Parliament were transported in military Land Cruisers to do the inspection.

Scopa Chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa says what they found is shocking, but confirmed what they have been getting from the media about shoddy work done.

“We are expecting the department to proceed with the disciplinary action against the 14 employees. But beyond that, the criminal investigation must take fold more over the financial recoveries will have to be prioritised. There is no doubt that this fence is a total shame. It is not fit for purpose and the South African taxpayers have been robbed in broad daylight.”

Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Public Works, Nolitho Ntobongwana, says heads must roll in the department of Public Works.

“We were expecting a fence that is 2.2 metres high but we are seeing a fence which is 1.8 meters high and even the specifications are not what was supposed to be done. It is clear that lots of money were misused and we hope that heads will roll. All those that have misused the government’s money must account for it. If necessary cases must be opened against them.”

A representative of the Special Investigative Unit, Johny Le Roux says the money spent was not fit for the purpose.

“The first time we arrived here, we found 115 breaches in the fence. As we drive, we will stop at certain places and show you the breaches. It is extremely easy to break the fence. If you take that razor wire, you can actually bend it with your hands. So those were the issues that we were concerned about and that is why we felt the fence was not fit for purpose and does not meet the standard of proper fence.”

The Auditor-General has also found that certain aspects were not properly followed in terms of pricing of the fence. It’s alleged that the company that has erected the fence has already been paid R22 million.