'You're costing us our bonuses': Kimi Makwetu tells of death threats to audit staff

04 December 2019 - 15:57 By THABO MOKONE
Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu has told of eight times the lives of his auditors were threatened by government officials who also offered bribes to his staff over negative audits.
Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu has told of eight times the lives of his auditors were threatened by government officials who also offered bribes to his staff over negative audits.
Image: Masi Losi

Top government officials, including chief financial officers and municipal managers, are among those who threatened the lives of the auditor-general’s staff in an attempt to block negative audit outcomes.

They also stand accused of offering bribes to AG staff.

This has been revealed by auditor-general Kimi Makwetu, who was briefing the standing committee on the auditor-general (Scoag) on acts of intimidation against his staff members during this year's audit cycle.

Makwetu detailed eight incidents in which the lives of his auditors had been threatened by government officials who, among other alleged criminal offences, offered bribes to his staff.

Makwetu told MPs that senior employees from Rand Water, a department of water and sanitation entity, intimidated his staff in August when they told them that that the AG's audit findings "are costing them their bonuses".

Makwetu also reported that a CFO from the Mpofana local municipality, in the Pietermaritzburg region of KwaZulu-Natal, in October offered one of his managers a bribe in exchange of a favourable audit outcome.

The AG said the matter has been reported to Saps and a criminal investigation was under way.

At Mpumalanga's Victor Khanye local municipality in Delmas, Makwetu reported that the municipal manager "informed the audit team that they might be kidnapped due to audit on SCM (supply chain management) tenders".

The alleged act of intimidation also took place in October.

Makwetu also told MPs that senior employees of the Msukaligwa local municipality, in another Mpumalanga town of Ermelo, asked his auditors "unreasonable questions" that compromised their safety.

Makwetu said other acts of intimidation also took place at municipalities such as Buffalo City in the Eastern Cape and uMfolozi in KZN.

He also cited an incident in Nelson Mandela Bay last month in which his audit team had to be extracted from the coastal city after newspaper articles on the killings related to  issues they were auditing were left in an office they had been utilising.

Makwetu said while these alleged acts of criminality had been reported to the police, MPs would still be within their rights to summons all those implicated to parliament to explain themselves.

He said their conduct was clearly interfering with the constitutional oversight mandate of parliament on financial affairs of the state, as well as the legislative role of his office.

"Maybe it will be good idea to just pick up three of them in different provinces and bring them here, and then flash the cameras in their faces and get them to explain to this committee why they think that this thing that they are alleged to have done must be tolerated," said Makwetu.

"Because this is not something that was by way of some message from some network. It was one individual saying, 'Hey, by doing this audit work and these findings, you're threatening our bonuses.'

"It doesn't matter what level they are - let them come here, then you can exercise your responsibilities in the context of your oversight role. Because ultimately when the rest of them who plan to do this see that happening, then they will think twice before they make even a veiled suggestion of that kind."

Sakhumzi Somyo, the chairperson of Scoag, said the matter would be taken further when parliament reopens in the new year.


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