Premium Journalist
2 minute read
11 Mar 2018
10:00 am

DA alarmed at disappearance of Life Esidimeni whistleblower


The woman's NPO raised questions around millions in state funds being transferred in a questionable manner.

Nomawethu Kunene.

The disappearance of non-profit organisation (NPO) A re Agang deputy director Nomawethu Kunene fits the pattern of ruthless perpetrators of state looting, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

Her disappearance was alarming, as Kunene appeared to become the target of harassment, including a bogus arrest by police in December last year, presumably to put pressure on her to keep quiet about events around the funneling of money from the Gauteng social development department to other destinations, DA Gauteng MPL Justus de Goede said.

Kunene’s family have pleaded for her safe return.

A re Agang, which provides shelter for abused women, made headlines last year after being used by Gauteng social development as a “conduit” for payments to other organisations funded by the department, he said.

The NPO processed one payment of R14 million to Life Esidimeni and, without prior warning, received a further transfer of over R10 million. These payments made by the department were a blatant violation of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The details of the transfer were unclear, as it appeared to come from a source other than the department.

A re Ageng staff suspected that these transfers were irregular and notified the department to confirm that it had made this transfer. In November 2017, A re Ageng’s bank account was hacked and R5 million transferred to a fuel sale company, which immediately paid a large number of suppliers to obtain a huge quantity of diesel fuel, which was quickly transferred to tankers “for export to a neighbouring country”, De Goede said.

The department then instructed the NPO to transfer the balance to an account different to the one stipulated in its agreement with the department. The NPO refused to do this until the authenticity of the source of the funds had been determined, he said.

“There was a vicious campaign by social development officials, whose names are known to us, to force A re Ageng to transfer the remaining money and repeated threats to shut down this NPO. Gauteng social development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza was made aware of the behaviour of her officials and did nothing to stop them. The South Gauteng High Court ruled that the remaining R5 million be placed in an escrow account until the resolution of the dispute.

“The disappearance of Nomawethu Kunene fits the pattern of ruthless perpetrators of state looting. It’s high time that both Gauteng premier David Makhura and MEC Mayathula-Khoza break their silence on the matter instead of targeting the victim’s NPO.

“The DA calls on premier Makhura to honour his claim of stamping out corruption by initiating a high-level investigation into the matter and the SAPS [South African Police Service] must assist the family in locating the missing whistle-blower and afford her protection,” De Goede said.