South Africa 11.5.2017 05:10 am

Limpopo premier gives agriculture MEC ultimatum to pay back R1.6m

EFF and DA say the punishment is still not nearly harsh enough.

Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha has given MEC for agriculture Mapula Mokaba an ultimatum to pay back R1.6 million within 14 days or face the wrath of the law.

Mokaba is the younger sister of the late ANC Youth League president Peter Mokaba. The ultimatum comes after the public protector found that Mokaba had wrongly awarded a R4 million tender to a company called MPA Investigators to investigate irregularities in the department.

Mathabatha said yesterday his action followed a complaint lodged with the public protector two years ago about the awarding of the tender.

At the time of authorising the payment, Mokaba was the MEC for transport, safety, security and liaison.

The appointment of the person to investigate irregularities in the department was itself irregular, Mathabatha told The Citizen.

He said the appointment of the tender was also in violation of the prescripts of the Public Finance Management Act and the Executive Members Ethics Act, adding that all he had to do was to implement the recommendation of the public protector upon the completion of the investigations.

“Both the MEC and the head of the department, Hanli du Plessis, were subjected to disciplinary action where I harshly reprimanded them,” explained Mathabatha, who is known in the province as “Mr No Corruption”.

Mathabatha said: “I gave Du Plessis a final written warning and further asked her to pay back money to the tune of R1 154 432. As for Mokaba, I ordered her to pay back R1 638 728 within a period of 14 days.”

DA provincial leader Jacques Smalle said: “Mokaba deserved to be fired on the spot. What she has done is despicable and therefore warrants harsh punishment that would serve as a deterrent to would-be future offenders.”

Smalle said Mathabatha should have acted upon the release of the public protector’s report and dismissed the MEC with immediate effect, while also recovering the full amount of public money that was sent down the drain.

The EFF, which reported the complaint to the office of the public protector, said the punishment handed over to Mokaba and Du Plessis was a drop in the ocean.

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