South African Public Protector wants Mandela funeral funds probe

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South Africa’s Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Monday called investigation into the misuse of public funds for the funeral and memorial services of former president Nelson Mandela in 2013.

Ms Mkhwebane called on Finance minister Malusi Gigaba to request President Jacob Zuma to order the corruption-busting Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate the alleged unlawful expenditure of public money four years ago.

She said it was shocking that funds were paid, at inflated rates, to suppliers without verification of delivery of goods or services.

“In one instance, $ 739200 equivalent to R10 million payment was approved over the phone on direct instructions from the ANC and paid to suppliers,” a damning 300-page report by Ms Mkhwebane says, the Africa review said.

Ms Mkhwebane noted that those funds were meant for the provision of running water, electricity, sanitation, ablution facilities, and the replacement of mud schools and refurbishment of hospitals in one of the country’s poorest regions.

She said lack of a proper coordinated plan for state funerals resulted in massive unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Mr Mandela died at the age of 95 on December 5, 2013 after battling a recurring lung infection, opening the floodgates for officials to misuse the infrastructure development grant.

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