The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has verified the authenticity of a recording involving a senior adviser to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, but says more investigations need to be done to determine if there was indeed corruption involved.

This comes after the City Press newspaper alleged that there is an audio recording that implicates Thami ka Plaatjie and two colleagues, in plans to siphon off part of the R200-million pledged to water-starved residents.

The Department’s Head of Communications, Yonela Diko, says after the allegations surfaced Ka Plaatjie sent a written request to Sisulu that he be placed on special leave, while investigations are underway.

Diko says the investigations will now focus on the context of the conversation.

“The recording does exist, the contents have been verified. What I think needs investigation is the broader conversation that is not in the tape – what was the core context because it may well be that people are looking at the measures that the rules allow for choosing particular service providers but I think what the Minister wants us to say what was the context, why did advisers find themselves talking about service providers, talking about supply chain issues and once that has been established then the Minister will do the right thing.”

Plans afoot to turn around Water and Sanitation Department: Sisulu

Minister Sisulu says officials are working hard to turn around the troubled department. Sisulu addressed a virtual meeting of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on investigations into irregular expenditure in the department as well as at Water Boards.

Scopa heard that disciplinary steps have been taken against nearly 100 officials and just more than R3 million has been recouped so far.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has embarked on several investigations to clean up its act. They have taken steps against 97 officials, of which 13 have been dismissed.

Water boards have raked up irregular expenditure of billions of rands, and the Special Investigations Unit has been roped in to investigate.

Scopa Chairperson, Mkululeko Hlengwa, says too little is happening.

“We are dealing with a department that has not covered itself in glory when it comes to financial management. We are not happy with the slow pace of investigations and also prosecutions. We must get prosecuting authorities to explain.”