Court rules on Beitbridge border fence: FF Plus – ‘Patricia de Lille must step down’

The FF Plus welcomes judgment on 8 March 2022, by the Special Tribunal ordering contractors, who were paid millions before doing any work on the Beitbridge border fence, to pay back any profits from the project.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) took two companies, Caledon River Properties (Pty.) Ltd. and Profteam CC, to court in a bid to recover the funds, amounting to approximately R40 million, spent on the Beitbridge border fence project.

The FF Plus concurs with Judge Lebogang Modiba who said that the biggest losers in the matter were the state and taxpayers.

The SIU and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure were also ordered to appoint a qualified expert to compile a report on the reasonableness of the two companies’ expenses, and to submit it to the Special Tribunal.

The repayment must be finalised within 30 days after the submission of the report.

The FF Plus raised the Beitbridge matter several times in Parliament since early 2020 and posed various questions about it to the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille.

During a meeting of the relevant parliamentary Portfolio Committee in August 2020, the FF Plus told Minister De Lille that she apparently had no control over the Department’s expenditure on the construction of the border fence.

The party added that she exploited the Disaster Management Act to have the border fence erected, and that she must be held accountable.

De Lille denied having benefited from the project and even said that she was willing to disclose her bank account statements to confirm it.

After the judgement, the FF Plus wants to see De Lille keep her word and publicly take full responsibility for the debacle instead of trying to shift the blame to officials in her Department, as she tried to do in the past.

Minister De Lille is the political head of the Department and she has not only neglected her oversight role, but she also acted unlawfully when she exploited the Disaster Management Act in her capacity as Minister.

In terms of Section 27(2)(L) of the Disaster Management Act (no. 57 of 2002) and the National Treasury’s regulations, provision is made for some deviation from normal procedures in the emergency procurement of certain services, items and goods.

Minister De Lille, however, allowed the project to proceed while the required procurement procedures had not been followed, and that was before the Disaster Management Act had come into effect. That is unacceptable and she must step down immediately.

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