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South Africa: Millions looted during Nelson Mandela’s funeral

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The head of South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog, Busisiwe Mkhwebane has confirmed a R250‚000 payment into Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle’s private account was among a litany of irregular transactions made with money meant for Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

In a damning 300-page report‚ Mkhwebane has laid bare the details of how provincial and municipal officials went on a spending spree with money initially allocated for development in one of South Africa’s poorest provinces.

While Masualle did not benefit from the payment – he ordered that the payment be reversed – Mkhwebane has made it clear that the transaction “was improper and constitutes maladministration”.

The provincial planning and treasury department instead opened a departmental account with a paycard for use by Masualle.

The funds were to enable Masualle‚ as one of the key hosts‚ to settle any costs related to the receiving of guests‚ side meetings that required special rooms and any other incidental costs whilst Masualle was in Mthatha for Mandela’s funeral.

The report states that it is not disputed that Masualle did not benefit from this transaction but found it inappropriate for state funds to be deposited into Masualle’s personal bank account.

Nelson Mandela died on December 5‚ 2013‚ opening the floodgates in the province for officials to spend R330-million diverted from the infrastructure development grant.

Mkhwebane said it was shocking that funds were paid‚ at inflated rates‚ to suppliers without verification of delivery of services or goods.

Almost R6-million was paid to Victory Ticket 750 cc for the transportation of mourners to Mandela’s memorial service but the actual number of people ferried could not be verified.

The public protector said that some of the payments‚ in one instance R10-million‚ were approved over the phone on direct instructions from the ANC and paid to suppliers.

Mkhwebane’s report also mentions t-shirts‚ at an exorbitant cost of more than R300 each‚ delivered to a taxi rank.

She noted that these funds‚ channelled to the Eastern Cape Development Corporation by the Eastern Cape provincial treasury‚ were meant for the provision of running water‚ electricity‚ sanitation‚ ablution facilities‚ replacement of mud schools and refurbishment of hospitals.

Mkhwebane said weaknesses – such as the lack of a proper coordinated plan for state funerals‚ the lack of an operational centre where daily meetings could be held‚ and the fact that the funeral was regarded as an emergency – resulted in massive unauthorised‚ irregular‚ fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

“This weakness was explored and capitalised upon by some service providers [who] took advantage of the situation and inflated prices. Some submitted invoices and were paid for goods and services‚ the delivery of which was not or could not be verified‚” she said.

Mkhwebane has directed finance minister Malusi Gigaba to request President Jacob Zuma to make a proclamation that the corruption-busting Special Investigation Unit investigate:- Unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money;- Unlawful‚ irregular or unapproved acquisitive acts‚ transactions‚ measures or practices;- Intentional or negligent loss of public money by organs of state; with a view to instituting civil action for the recovery of the lost funds.

A criminal investigation into the money spent on the funeral led to the arrest of a number of politicians and businesspeople‚ including former Buffalo City Metropolitan (BCM) municipality mayor Zukiswa Ncitha‚ former deputy mayor Temba Tinta‚ former council speaker Luleka Simon-Ndzele‚ councillor Sindiswa Gomba‚ senior BCM official Ondela Mahlangu‚ businesswoman Viwe Vazi and businessman Dean Fanoe.

Motherland News

Families Identify Church Collapse Victims in Anguish

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Tears and anguish characterized the atmosphere as the grieving families of 13 worshipers killed in a church collapse arrived at the Richards Bay mortuary to identify the bodies of their loved ones.

The worshipers died when a wall collapsed at the Pentecostal Holiness Church near Empangeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal last Thursday night.

The KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department co-ordinated with various departments including health, home affairs and the police, to assist in speeding up the body identification process.

Six worshippers were from Ulundi, four from eSikhawini and three from Maqwakazi in uMlalazi.

Describing the collapse, Phumelele Simelane from eSikhawini said worshippers had just had their evening meal and were preparing to sleep when the wall caved in.

Simelane was with her 6-year-old son, who is recovering in hospital. She said she came to the mortuary to support congregants whose relatives died.

The Mthembu family, who lost grandmother Thembi Mthabela, 54, and Andiswa Mthembu, 10, in the tragedy were overcome with grief.

“Thembi loved going to church and she always took Andiswa with her. Andiswa was doing Grade 3 at Nyathini Primary School. As a family, we are very traumatised and it is hard for us,” said a relative, who did not wanted to be named.

Buhle Mzila, whose sister Samke, 33, died, said the family had lost a breadwinner.

Samke, who worked at the Ulundi Municipality, was with her 9-year-old daughter during the incident.

Buhle said her niece, who was in hospital, was in a state of shock about her mother’s death.

“Samke loved the church, she always made sure she attended every service. She played a big role in terms of assisting the family. We are still going to feel her absence,” said Buhle.

A sobbing Mbongeni Langa said his mother had died in a “place she loved”.

The memorial service will be held tomorrow

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Motherland News

CAF Sidelines Nigerian Centre Referees for 2019 AFCON

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Out of the Twenty-seven centre referees penciled down for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, countries like Burundi, Mali, Zambia and Sudan are represented on the list, but no Nigerian referee was selected for the big occasions.

However, only one assistant referee from Nigeria named Baba Adel was listed among the twenty-nine assistant referees selected by the African Football Governing Body.

The competition will be held from 21 June to 19 July 2019, as per the decision of the CAF Executive Committee on 20 July 2017.

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