by Melinda Hattingh – DA Spokesperson of Transport, Safety & Liaison
Date: 08 November 2017
Type: Press Statement
Failure by the Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison to investigate high-level corruption, that occurred three years ago, has prompted the DA to report the matter to the Office of the Public Protector.
The matter relates to suspicious payments of R42 million, made by the department to an implementing agent by the name of Wilcovert, for road safety awareness and education programmes in the province. The money paid to Wilcovert came from an injection of R60 million from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) in 2014.
Not only did the department procure donkey carts, furniture and other questionable items with the funds, but they also made dodgy prepayments to Wilcovert and wrongly classified payments in what we suspect was a deliberate attempt to keep irregularities under the radar.
The DA has consistently probed the department regarding the expenditure of the RTMC funds.
The department previously indicated that it had not received an expenditure report from Wilcovert and that it was attempting to reconcile the expenditure. Two years ago, former MEC, Martha Bartlett, also committed to providing the committee with a subsequent expenditure report but, to date, this has not been forthcoming.
The Audit Committee meanwhile also requested the department to institute a forensic investigation into the 2014/2015 project of the Road Traffic Management Corporation in view of serious suspicion of high level fraud in the implementation of the project.
The department yesterday stated that it didn’t have funds to institute an investigation into the matter. MEC Pauline Williams further indicated that she had a meeting scheduled with Provincial Treasury today in order to request funding for a forensic investigation into the Wilcovert matter.
The DA considers “pleading poverty” as a non-excuse for not having taken action. If this feeble excuse is accepted for this department then it means that the whole of government can simply plead bankruptcy in a bid to evade accountability.
Fraud and corruption are serious criminal offenses that are bankrupting the state and robbing the poorest of the poor of much-needed services.
We appreciate the MEC’s attempts to not let this matter go. But the reality is that if this department was really serious about tackling corruption it would not have waited three years to tackle crime within its own ranks.
In fact, it would have cost the department nothing, other than a bit of integrity, to open a criminal case with the Hawks.
It is clear that the rot within the Department of Safety, Transport and Liaison is far reaching and that there are elements within this department who will go to extremes to cover up the looting of state funds.
This is an injustice to the people of this province, who rely on this department to promote a safe environment and user friendly public transport network.
The DA will refer the matter to the Public Protector. There is no doubt that an external investigation into the Wilcovert matter is long overdue.
A new beginning is needed for the people of the Northern Cape, and that can only happen in 2019 under DA–led government that does not abuse the people’s money for corrupt activities.
DA Spokesperson of Transport, Safety & Liaison
082 494 6648
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387