Three state funerals costing close to R80 million under scrutiny

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Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille has told MPs that she awaits a decision from President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding the possible provisional suspension of Sam Vukela.

Vukela is reportedly implicated for irregular expenditure of R76 million for three state funerals, along with four other departmental officials.

De Lille and a delegation from her department briefed Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on the department’s 2018/19 annual report.

Members of Parliament had questions around the nearly R80 million spent on the funerals of ANC stalwarts, Zola Skweyiya, Billy Modise and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in the year under review.

An investigation by a private audit firm found grossly inflated figures and pointed the finger at five departmental officials.

None of those implicated are suspended, even though De Lille gave permission for disciplinary action to be taken.

De Lille said she believes government should cap state funerals and that they should have a budget.

“I will give you examples; an amount totaling R27 million was paid to the service provider where the invoiced price differed from the unit price contracted for or tendered for. Then another R33 million was invoiced and paid for but did not appear as contracted items. The last amount is about R12 million that we could not find any evidence that the department acquisitioned any of these goods,” said De Lille.

She said we would like to suggest that we put a cap on what government can spend on state/official funerals.

De Lille added saying “There isn’t a specific budget within the department for these events [state/official funerals]. There is a need for control and it is clear from this case that there was serious negligence on the part of officials within the department.”