National Hawks Head Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya has welcomed the arrest and subsequent appearance of two former senior officials of the Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport at the Giyani Magistrate Court on Wednesday.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said the arrested were former Senior Project Manager, Margaret Mthombeni (64) and then acting Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) Coordinator, Richard Ngobeni (69).
They were arrested by the Hawks Serious Corruption Investigation for allegedly defrauding the department of almost R63 million in 2011.
“A forensic investigation was commissioned by the Minister of Roads and Transport in 2010 where it transpired that during 15 and 16 March 2011, the department issued official purchase order(s) to selected service providers without following proper procurement procedures,” Mulaudzi said.
The tenders were not advertised and all companies invited for the briefing were sourced outside the department’s database. The selected service providers were requested to submit quotations to repair potholes on different roads in Limpopo. Ninety-one quotations were sourced to patch potholes.
Mulaudzi said one construction company was awarded two contracts to patch potholes in Mopani District between the 24 and 31 March 2011 and on 31 March 2011. The said company submitted two invoices before commencing with the work, claiming that the project was complete. Mthombeni and Ngobeni allegedly signed the payment certificates certifying them as correct and the company was ultimately paid R4.1 million.
“Investigations revealed that some of the roads were already fixed while others were actually gravel roads. Most of the service providers at the time submitted invoices for payment for either work not done and/or for less work done in terms of specifications. All service providers were subsequently paid and the department suffered a loss of R63 million.
“Investigations of this nature can be time consuming and need team work to minimise time. It has taken eight years to complete this investigation. I am comforted by the fact that the investigation is complete. We will secure the attendance of all those who played a role in this scam in court to answer for looting public funds,” said Lebeya.
Meanwhile, the two suspects appeared briefly before the court and they were granted R4 000 bail each, pending their next appearance on 27 September 2019.