Public Protector updates Bapo-Ba-Mogale on her investigation into alleged looting of their resources
Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela on Friday met with the community of Bapo-Ba-Mogale outside Brits in the North West to provide a preliminary report on her investigation into allegations of systematic looting of the community's collective resources, including funds held in the so-called “D account”.
Among the issues the Public Protector was asked to investigate were the amount of money that had gone into the account from 1994 to date, what the money was spent on, the identity of the individuals that authorised the expenditure and who the beneficiaries of the expenditure were.
She was also asked to look into whether all of the royalty payments due to them from mining company, Lonmin, and others businesses mining on the community's land were paid. They further asked that the alleged abuse of resources relating to the construction of Kgosi Mogale's palace be investigated.
Addressing the community at the local tribal hall, the Public Protector, who had earlier met with Kgosi Edward Mogale and the traditional council at the palace and tribal offices, said the community had R721 000 to its name when Auditor-General audited its account in 1994.
In 2014, the community stopped using the account, preferring a newly established investment wing for its resources. Since then, about R40million in royalties were received. Most of the money has since been spent.
"What this means is that, basically, all of the money earned has been spent," the Public Protector said, adding that the investigation team was aware of the identity of some of the officials that had been authorising expenditure and that some of them were still in office and would be held to account.
She added that, throughout the last 20 years, the North West government was accountable for the expenditure of R617million in the account, paying suppliers directly for goods and services in line with a budget presented at the beginning of each year.
The biggest amount spent, said the Public Protector, was on the building of the palace. Initially, the budget for the palace was R20million. When the Public Protector got involved, the amount spent had risen to R50million. The last forensic report investigators received stated R80million had already been spent. This was despite the Public Protector having asked that the expenditure be halted pending her investigation.
Some of the money was paid to administrators, consultants and suppliers for services such as catering. Other expenditure areas were allowances paid to tribal councillors and members of the royal family. In addition, funds were paid to universities and colleges as bursaries, and to book stores. The investigation will establish who the beneficiaries were, if procedures were followed and if there was value for money, the Public Protector said.
"We will establish what was paid for with your collective resources and if you got value for money. We will follow up on the process followed to find out if those that were paid deserved what they got," she said. "We have all that information, including cheque numbers, the names of people paid and the identity of those who signed."
The Public Protector raised concerns about the fact that throughout the last 20 years, there had been no oversight structure such as a trust with trustees to look after the resources of the community.
Regarding the chieftaincy dispute, she explained that her office did not investigate as the matter was a subject of a court case. Her office restricted itself to resolving complaints about administrators, working with the provincial government to have the traditional council elected.
Assuring the community that the investigation was in its final stages, the Public Protector apologised that it had taken long to conclude. She explained that, until recently, her office had battled to get the information it needed from the office of the Premier and the Department of Traditional Affairs.
She undertook to expedite the finalisation of the report, which is expected to direct, among other things, that a structure such as a trust be put in place to manage the resources of the community and that there be transparency in the use of the resources.
Kgosi Mogale told the meeting that he was not in favour of those found guilty of wrongdoing merely going to jail. He preferred a process that would result in the funds being recouped from the culprits, including the auctioning of their assets.
For more information contact:
Senior Manager: Communications
Public Protector South Africa
Cell: 072 264 3273