A South African high court on Thursday dismissed an application that sought to set aside findings that millions of dollars of money for the burial of former president, Nelson Mandela, was misappropriated.
Public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, in 2017 released a report into alleged plundering of public resources during the burial of Mandela. According to the report, 300m rand ($22m) was redirected from a development fund to help with costs.
The fund had been earmarked for things like sanitation, the replacement of mud schools and the refurbishment of hospitals, instead, authorities allegedly spent it on items like $24 T-shirts, the report cited by BBC said.
Mkwenane said the funds were misdirected and that civil action should be taken to recover the money from various Eastern Cape government agencies.
Provincial government director-general, Marion Mbina-Mthembu, who was not pleased with the development, had sent an application to the court to set aside Mkhwebane’s findings.
But the high court in the Eastern Cape threw out the application this week, reports TimesLIVE.
Mkhwebane has welcomed the court’s decision and is optimistic that the ruling will ensure that the various organs of state fully implement the remedial action she had directed them to take.
“To take the public protector’s report on review has never meant that the report is of poor quality. It’s similar to appealing a court judgment. It is merely a legal avenue available to aggrieved parties, who believe another forum could arrive at a different decision,” Mkhwebane said.
“A lot of work goes into the writing of our reports. Our investigation officials, who are legal brains in their own right, work rigorously to see to it that each finding is backed up by irrefutable evidence,” she was quoted by TimesLIVE.
South Africa’s first black president, Mandela, passed away on December 5, 2013. His funeral in Qunu, Eastern Cape, attracted thousands of people including dozens of world leaders.
Months after his burial, allegations of misuse of funds emerged. Four years later, in 2017, Mkhwebane asked former President Jacob Zuma to pursue the allegations.
She said “disorganization” was partly responsible for the misuse, and further alleged that South Africa’s governing ANC party had instructed officials on how the money should be spent.
“There are invoices we are showing with letterheads from the ANC. And monies were paid but again services were not rendered,” she was quoted by South Africa’s EyeWitness News.
“It is very concerning that we can use a funeral to do such things.”
“How do you charge or escalate prices or even send an invoice for something you have not delivered?” she asked.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation reacted with shock and outrage when the 300-page report was released.
“…We say the public protector’s report suggests that there are things that should be done to make sure that these kinds of things don’t happen again,” the foundation’s director of communications, Luzuko Poti was quoted by SABC News in 2017.
South African icon, Mandela spent 27 years in prison for attempting to overthrow the apartheid regime.
After leaving prison in 1990, he served as president from 1994 to 1999 during which he ensured that human rights were respected and South Africans had a better future.