Game handover seems wildly irregular: MPs

06 June 2017 - 08:43 By KATHARINE CHILD
Buffaloes fetch less on auction these days
Buffaloes fetch less on auction these days

A white Afrikaans game-breeding family appears to have received a multimillion-rand gift in the form of buffalo and sable antelope from the North West government as part of its "transformation agenda".

ANC MP Mohlopi Mapulane, chairman of the portfolio committee on environmental affairs, described the donation as "highly irregular" and in breach of the Public Finance Management Act.

"The explanation they [North West provincial government] are giving us is a very shallow one.

"They said they are promoting the transformation of the wildlife economy. Given that the company they donated to is owned and controlled by two white males, I don't understand," Mapulane said.

He said the committee had been trying to get to the bottom of the donation for about 18 months.

In 2014, the SA Rare Game Breeders Association, a private company, whose directors are Mike and Henry de Kock, according to its website, asked the North West department of rural environment and agricultural development for wildlife worth about R100-million.

They also asked for the best and strongest males for breeding and the province agreed.

Their initial request was for 210 buffalo, 210 antelope and 210 sables, but later the request was changed to 120 buffalo, about 50 sable antelope and about 50 rhino.

DA MP Ross Purdon said the committee's questions about the donations appeared to scupper plans to donate 50 white rhino.

The breeders' association received about 21 female buffalo and 31 sable antelope.

An adult sable can fetch between R220,000 and R320,000 on game auction websites, which means 32 sables could be worth about R8.4-million.

Buffalo prices range between a few hundred thousand to a few million rands per animal, which means 21 female buffalo would equal R10-million at least.

Purdon said the committee was in the process of finalising its report on the donation.

"This donation was based on an old policy which the committee found to be nonexistent. The new policy does not allow for the donation of high-value animals."

Mapulane said the North West Parks Board did not follow the correct procedures in the disposal of assets belonging to the state.

"They simply received the proposal and within a couple of weeks approved it. It is very strange. The policy they purported to use was, we later discovered, never approved.

"This [donation] was in breach of the Public Finance Management Act and supply chain regulations in other policies of government."

The committee heard last month there was not enough space for the animals to be kept by the association because they only have 2000ha available on various farms.

It also appears some female buffalo died after they were donated.

"Another problem is that only female buffalo were relocated as males were discovered to have bovine TB.

"The translocation of only female buffalo made no sense at all. It has left North West parks without enough female buffalo to breed," said Purdon.

The SA Rare Game Breeders Association did not reply to e-mails or SMSes from The Times.

Spokesman Andries Boshoff said he could not speak on the matter and referred inquiries to the North West government.

Rural development department spokesman Betty Moleko said the donation was part of their "transformation drive".