The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) and the Portfolio Committees on Public Works and Infrastructure and Home Affairs have called for urgent consequence management against wrongdoers implicated in the construction of the Beit Bridge border fence.
The committees made the call after undertaking a joint oversight visit to the Beit Bridge border on Saturday, to assess the construction of the border fence which was procured as part of interventions to fight COVID-19.
Chairpersons for SCOPA, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, Public Works and Infrastructure, Nolitha Ntobongwana, and Acting Chairperson on Home Affairs, Mosa Chabane have confirmed that the new 40km Beit Bridge border fence is not fit for its purpose.
The committee said that the fact that a 37-year-old secondary fence that was decommissioned in 1994, is still in a better physical condition, is a clear demonstration of poor quality of the new five-month old one.
“The most practical and cost effective way would have been to refurbish the decommissioned fence. The committees are of the view that the material used for the construction of the fence was substandard. Also, the construction was not in line with the prescribed specifications of the fence construction project,” the committees said in a statement.
Regarding the 14 officials implicated for acts of misconduct during the procurement and construction of the fence, the committees said it is of the view that due process must be followed, which will hopefully culminate in the application of effective consequence management.
Process to recover losses incurred
The committees have also called for the state, through the Special Investigative Unit, to initiate a process to recover losses incurred during the construction of the fence.
The committees said that the prescriptive nature of the directive that was issued by Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille remains a concern, and they are waiting for an extensive report that will explain the circumstances and the motivation behind the directive for the construction of the fence.
The committees raised concerns over the contravention of the National Environmental Management Act when the fence was constructed. Also, according to the committees, the fact that there was no site clearance for the construction of the fence, is testament to “assortment of transgressions in the construction of the fence project”.
The committees have committed to focus closely on the project to ensure that effective consequence management takes place, and that the state recovers what was lost in the project back into the fiscus.