Former senior members of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and service provider appeared at Cape Town Magistrates Court today charged with 6 counts of fraud and 21 counts of the contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

Former SAHRA Chief Financial Officer (CEO), Veliswa Budaza, former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Catherine Motsitsi, former chairperson, Fanie Aaron Makhanya, CEO and Managing Director of Anix Consulting CC, Rhiyaan Cupido and his wife, Weedad Cupido and Anix Consulting (the company) appeared at Cape Town Magistrates Court for failing to take effective and appropriate steps to prevent aunthorised or irregular expenditure, fruitless and wasteful expenditure which led to an overbudget of R30m.

During 2010 and 2011, the Department of Arts and Culture allocated funds to the agency for the implementation of flagship projects to commemorate and recognise the role played by South Africans both within the Republic of South Africa and outside the borders of the country.

As part of celebrating South Africa’s 20 years of democracy and centenary celebrations of the First World War, SAHRA undertook to rehabilitate burial sites of South African heroes. Graves that were targeted were those of Rev Zacharia Mahabane, Dr James Moroka, Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe, Josias Madzunye, Manche Masemola, Kgosi Mampuru11 and fixing the bust of Oliver Tambo.

This 2014 project, also planned to transform the landscape at Delville Wood Memorial and Museum, France. The project was expected to be completed within 12 months, from 23 March 2015 to April/ May 2016. A budget of R20m was set aside for the foreign grave project while R9,4m was budgeted for the domestic grave project.

On 23 March 2015, Anix Consulting CC was awarded the tender and a project team was appointed. Between June and July 2015, the project team and the chairperson undertook a study tour to Delville Wood.

The land within which Delville Wood is situated is South African government owned and managed by the Department of Public Works.

The State alleges that between 19 June 2015 and 03 July 2015, the CEO and CFO instructed the agency’s employees to amend and expand the scope of work to include transformation of the landscape in Britain, Cuba, and the United Kingdom. The new scope included major restoration and rehabilitation of sites in Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The increase in scope was not transparent, fair, and cost effective as required by the prescripts. SAHRA Council was not advised of the contract expansion including financial reports of the project. As a result, the expenditure incurred for the upgrade of the foreign and domestic grave project increased to R54,2m.

The State further alleges that the CEO, CFO, and chairperson were the controlling minds and intended to fraudulently benefit the service provider by sidelining the Project Team, Supply Chain Management, the Human Resource Management (HRM), and the legal department which were duty bound to oversee the implementation of the project. They also sidelined SAHRA’s Council committee members from overseeing the implementation of the project. In November 2015, whilst the project was in the planning stages, the finance committee was dissolved making it impossible to render the required services.

The State concluded that the three, CEO, CFO, and chairperson contravened Section 86(1), (2) and (3) of the PFMA in that the expansion of the work, budget, and deviation to appoint contractors in accordance with the service provider’s procurement policy was due to their failure to take effective and appropriate steps to prevent aunthorised or irregular expenditure, fruitless and wasteful which led to an overbudget of R30m. The company and its owners were not innocent by standers as they were instrumental in ensuring the expansion of the work, budget and that appointment of the contractors was transparent, fair, and cost effective.

The matter was reported to the Hawks in July 2017 for investigation and the accused were arrested this morning by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation team based in Bellville. The investigation established that correct procurement processes were not followed.

The accused were granted R5 000 bail each and will return to court on 14 November 2023 for further investigation. They will be joined by another accused at their next appearance.

Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Nicolette Bell, commended the collaboration between the investigation and prosecution team which led to the arrest and prosecution of the accused. She promised that more effort and resources are put in place to deal with fraud and corruption especially involving government employees.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *