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Zondo questions why no one has been charged in R1 billion Free State housing scheme

Raymond Zondo

The chairperson of the state capture inquiry, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has raised concerns that, after nearly 10 years, no one has been charged or arrested in connection with the “irregular” and “fraudulent” R1 billion Free State housing scheme.

Zondo expressed his concerns during the testimony of the head of the province’s human settlements department, Nthimotse Mokhesi.

The Free State province was meant to build thousands of low cost houses in 2010 and 2011, but many of the houses were never built.

When the province under-spent money allocated to it, the national department threatened to transfer some of the housing budget to “better performing provinces”.

However, a scheme was quickly devised for the money to be spent, which led to more than 100 contractors getting an advance payment before anything could be done.

The state capture inquiry has heard that the province spent over R500 million before any work was done.

It was also revealed that the housing department made payments to contractors and suppliers without any written agreement or any proof that houses had been built.

There was no procurement process in respect of the contractors and the parties who supplied materials.

The department lost over R400 million.

The entire scheme was “completely irregular”, Zondo was told.

Zondo said it was concerning that no one had been charged or arrested.

“It is concerning because part of the complaints connected with allegations of state capture is that some of the law enforcement agencies were paralyzed or didn’t do their job in regard to certain matters.

“Of course, it may be that, in this case, they have done their job to the best of their ability, given whatever resources they have.”It is concerning when the taxpayers have lost as much money as we are talking about here.

“They lost it in 2010 and 2011 by the end of the financial year… that is March 2011 and that is close to 10 years and no arrest, nobody charged, and yet the taxpayers, on your estimate at least, lost about R500 million if, more and 10 years later, there is nothing that the public knows, that the department knows, that gives confidence that something is being done [and] that the matter is being given the urgent attention it deserves.”

The hearing continues.

-The Citizen

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