DA requests Public Protector to investigate R9 million funeral bill for former FS Health MEC – R6 million unpaid

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature

The DA has requested the Public Protector to investigate excessive expenditure incurred for the funeral of the late MEC for Health, Fezi Ngubentombi.

More than R9 million was spent on the funeral proceedings of which more than R6 million remains outstanding.

The Fezile Dabi District Municipality’s financial statements show an outstanding amount of R6 269 539.00 as recoverable expenses incurred for the funeral that would be paid back by five service providers. A CIPRO search could not confirm whether these companies actually exist or not. The municipality is under the false impression that this money would be recovered from the provincial government.

Last year I submitted a written question to Premier Ace Magashule asking which provincial department would be responsible for the costs incurred, whether the municipality will be reimbursed and when the payment will be made. Premier Magashule indicated in his reply that the provincial Department of Public Works would be responsible for the payment.

I have since submitted a written question to Public Works MEC Mashinini, to which he replied that the department is not aware of any commitments made towards the Fezile Dabi District Municipality for the costs incurred. MEC Mashinini stated that the department incurred costs amounting to R2 347 035.37 for VIP tents, catering and equipment hire, and an additional R103 001.50 for condolences advertisements.

The Legislature makes provision of R15 000.00 towards funeral expenses and the public office bearers pension fund makes provision for a further R36 000.00 for members of the provincial legislature should they die while in office.

The inflated costs incurred amounts to blatant abuse of taxpayer money for party political reasons. Almost two years after the funeral of the late MEC Ngubentombi nobody at provincial or local government level is prepared to take ownership of this exuberant expenditure.

It is quite ridiculous that government spent almost R9 million on the funeral of one person while most people in the Free State can’t afford even a coffin to lay their loved ones to rest.

The Free State provincial government is increasingly unable to deliver basic services to an impoverished population heavily dependent on social assistance, yet it gladly forks out millions of rands to serve party political interests, to line their own pockets and that of their friends and benefactors.