Hawks investigate housing officials and contractors for R36m fraud

Posted On Wednesday, 27 August 2014 10:16 Published by
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Hawks are investigating Eastern Cape Human Settlements officials and two contractors for allegedly defrauding the department of millions of rands.

Hawks

This was confirmed by Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko. "We cannot give details so far but we are investigating a case of fraud and corruption," he said. However, nine officials, including a district director, have been suspended for allegedly conniving with contractors by knowingly approving improperly built houses valued at more than R36-million.

Two companies are also being investigated by the department and by the Hawks. The probe by the provincial Human Settlements Department has so far revealed maladministration, fraud and corruption. For the 2014-2015 financial year alone, Human Settlements is to spend R209-million to rectify 2721 defective houses. From 2009 till March this year, 21573 defective houses have been rectified by the department and it needs a further R2.3-billion to complete the process.

"We can confirm that there are investigations on allegations of fraud and corruption against our employees and two contractors," department spokesman Lwandile Sicwetsha said. He said there were nine cases under investigation. "Four cases relate to employees in the OR Tambo region on allegations of fraud and corruption. This is now at an internal disciplinary hearing. "OR Tambo district manager Olona Njopini and her three project managers Mkhuseli Ceba, Thandokazi Makhalima and Sipho Cele were served with letters of suspension in November last year.

The four allegedly colluded with a housing contractor, Clifford Mkhombo of Mintirho Business Enterprise, to process claims worth more than R3-million for work not done. The company, which gives its address in Limpopo, built 300 houses in Mlothana village in Tsolo and 100 houses in Zidingi village, Mqanduli, in the last financial year. The company had five other contracts with the department in the 2013-2014 financial year worth R27-million and was recently awarded another four projects two in Mthatha to build 400 houses and another two in Mqanduli for another 550 houses.

The contracts have since been terminated. Mkhombo confirmed that his contracts with the department had been cancelled but refused to comment and referred inquiries to his lawyers. Sicwetsha said the other five cases related to greening projects, which had been referred to the Hawks. He confirmed the suspension of employees in the OR Tambo regional office, but said they could not release their names at this stage. Officials have been temporarily deployed from head office to the region to ensure work in the region continues.

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 11:01

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