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SA minister caught in Beitbridge border fence web

The Beitbridge border fence has endured a nightmare existence — and President Cyril Ramaphosa has been told to “get tough” with Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille.

Patricia de Lille
Patricia de Lille

The minister once again finds herself at the centre of controversy after members of her department were accused of “grossly inflating” the price of the Beitbridge border wall.

The project has been heavily derided since its construction, with some critics branding it a “glorified washing line.”

A probe from the SIU has discovered that R14.1 million has been spent irregularly on the project, and 14 officials who worked on the project will face further investigation. De Lille has denied any knowledge of state-sponsored corruption, but she has also admitted to “receiving regular updates on the construction.”

In total, the Beitbridge border post costs almost R40 million, but it’s believed more than a third of the price could have been knocked off. The tender and its subsequent awarding will now be thoroughly revisited.

Despite de Lille’s protestations, the DA demand that the minister faces disciplinary action. DA’s shadow deputy minister of Public Works, Samantha Graham-Maré, has asked President Ramaphosa to sanction the Cabinet member for allowing this alleged impropriety to happen on her watch.

As the Covid-19 corruption saga takes centre stage in South Africa, Graham-Maré wants Ramaphosa to put his money where his mouth is: “We will ask President Cyril Ramaphosa, as part of consequence management for impropriety by members of his cabinet on Covid-19 procurement, to sanction Patricia De Lille for gross negligence in the exercise of her responsibilities.

What Minister De Lille seems yet to realise is that the buck stops with her.”

“It is her job to ensure that projects undertaken by her Department are free of graft and corruption.

It is her job to scrutinise the projects undertaken by her Department — especially one as important as the restoration of the Beitbridge border fence.

The minister is getting caught in a web of her own making.” — News24

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