Corruption : SIU probes housing contracts

By Francis Hweshe

Cape Town - The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investigating 20 questionable housing contracts nationally, with an estimated value of R2 billion.

Two of the investigations have been completed and the dockets are now in the hands of the police.

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale made the announcement in Parliament during his Budget Vote speech on Tuesday.

Five syndicates are being targeted in various provinces, with three arrests having been made in Gauteng.

"One of the suspects arrested is a councilor in Tsakane, Gauteng, and two of his accomplices [have been arrested]. More arrests are still pending," said Sexwale.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the minister said that three department officials were arrested for selling houses that were part of the Enhanced Extended Discount Benefit Scheme. The officials have been dismissed and criminal cases against them are pending in court.

Sexwale said that a housing assistant director in KwaZulu-Natal, along with an accomplice who was a member of the public, was arrested for renting out low cost houses that "don't belong to them and pocketing the money."

He said one of the "stubborn challenges" they were facing was the rectification of shoddy workmanship." And the minister did not mince his words in his reproach.

"This is the work that should not be done in the first place. It is a waste of resources and time, and is costing the state a substantial amount of money, which should have gone for the building of brand new houses.

"Enough is enough regarding the incompetent shovel, wheel burrow and a bakkie brigade who line up for tenders and only end up cheating the poorest of the poor," he said.

The House largely welcomed the minister's speech, with some criticism leveled by opposition parties.

Sexwale said that they had identified 1 100 informal settlements out of the 2 700, which existed countrywide, for upgrading.

He said they were working together with their counterparts in the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to provide basic services such as water, electricity, refuse removal and sanitation. - BuaNews