Department of Social Development in KZN suspends officials, including CFO

Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza said disciplinary action was recommended for PPE procurement irregularities.

The Department of Social Development in KwaZulu-Natal has suspended a number of its high-ranking officials implicated in the procurement of blankets and personal protective equipment (PPEs), including CFO Brian Ndaba.

The suspension follows a forensic investigation report conducted into the alleged irregularities around the procurement of the goods, including sanitisers, wet wipes, soaps and towels 

Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza (pictured) said in a statement the investigation report had recommended that disciplinary action be taken against the acting head of department, acting deputy director-general, acting supply chain manager, cluster chief directors, and supply chain management officials along with the CFO.

The officials have been accused of allegedly contravening, among others, sections 45, 81 and 88 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) of 1999. They are also facing charges of alleged misconduct in terms of Chapter 7.

Nonhlanhla said that the MEC also welcomed the investigation report and that the department would ensure that all those implicated would be held to account. 

She said that the suspension of officials, including the removal of one employee in her office, shows the department's commitment that it will not tolerate corruption.

"As a department, we were taken aback by the outcome of the forensic investigation report, as presented by Premier Sihle Zikalala. The information unearthed by the investigation points to the high level of recklessness by officials tasked with safeguarding taxpayers' monies," she added.

Nonhlanhla said she has since instructed the head of department, as an accounting officer, Nelly Vilakazi, to ensure that the recommendations of the report are implemented to the latter. 

She said that the department takes a strong exception to corruption and maladministration, especially during this period, when people are battling the scourge of Covid-19 and the ripple effect it has on other aspects of life.

"We will ensure that taxpayers' money that was spent irregularly is recovered. Not only will we deal with officials, but we will also deal with companies that were involved in the process," Nonhlanhla said. 

She added that the department has engaged a multidisciplinary team, comprising officials from Social Development, Office of the Premier, and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), to ensure the speedy implementation of the recommendations of the report. The department has also opened two criminal charges with Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks).

"One would like to thank Premier Zikalala for providing leadership on the matter and we will ensure that we complete the process by ensuring accountability for each and every cent spent. We would also like to thank members of the media for their role in the matter," MEC Nonhlanhla said.