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Heads to roll over Beitbridge fence

Fence broken

Heads to roll over Beitbridge fence. South Africa’s Public Works and Infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille said senior officials in her department had allegedly committed a range of acts of misconduct during the procurement and construction of the 37km Beitbridge border fence.

An investigation which revealed a litany of incompetence and wrongdoing in the emergency construction of a fence between South Africa and Zimbabwe has recommended disciplinary action against 14 government officials. This was one of the findings of an investigation commissioned by de Lille after media reports about the inadequacy of the fence.

de Lille released an executive summary of the report yesterday and said the full document would be sent to law enforcement agencies, regulatory bodies and parliament. She said the department would pursue “disciplinary, criminal, civil and systemic consequence management” processes against those suspected of wrongdoing.

In addition, the fence would be investigated “in terms of the presidential proclamation mandating the Special Investigating Unit to investigate COVID-19-related projects and bring the matter before the SIU tribunal”.

de Lille said the investigation “has not found any evidence of impropriety on my part and has also not found any evidence to suggest that I benefited personally from this project in any way whatsoever”.

She pledged to ensure that “any official who has been found guilty of any wrongdoing will be dealt in the appropriate manner and will be held accountable”. de Lille said: “I am mindful that many questions have been raised and that the public has been waiting for the release of the outcome of this investigation.

“Investigations of this nature have to be done thoroughly and due process has to be followed, which can become time-consuming. “The public has a right to be updated on the progress in order to provide the necessary assurances that I am committed to clean governance and getting to the bottom of this matter.”

de Lille said she requested an investigation by the auditor-general on April 20, and five days later asked the public works anti-corruption unit to investigate as well, assisted by SIU members seconded to the department.

Last week, dA MP Samantha GrahamMaré accused de Lille of using a special advisor, Melissa Whitehead, to oversee implementation of the Beitbridge project.

Source – Bulawayo24

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