South Africa watchdog: $22M misspent on Nelson Mandela's funeral

By Allen Cone  |  Dec. 4, 2017 at 3:54 PM
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Dec. 4 (UPI) -- South Africa's corruption watchdog said Monday that officials misused $22 million during Nelson Mandela's funeral four years ago.

The Public Protector advocate, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, in a 300-page report released in Pretoria, detailed lavish and inflated spending by Eastern Cape officials on the funeral of the former leader.

Mkhwebane, who said it was "very scary" and "appalling" that officials failed to follow regulations, called on President Jacob Zuma to order the Special Investigating Unit to look into the spending.

The report said "money meant for infrastructure and social development in the Eastern Cape, the provision of running water, electricity, sanitation, the replacement of mud schools and the refurbishment of hospitals" was misspent, including on T-shirts, mourners transportation and catering at memorial services.

"How do you charge R350 [$26] for a t-shirt? Yes officials are supposed to be following the public finance management act, but service providers, where is your conscience for charging the state so much money for a t-shirt? It's very concerning," Mkhwebane said.

She said at the news conference it is "is very concerning that we can use a funeral to do such things. How do you charge or escalate prices or even send an invoice for something you have not delivered?"

The funeral was poorly planned, she said.

"There was no properly coordinated plan for all different role players in the funeral and related activities from the level of national, provincial and local government and public entities," Mkhwebane said. "Despite the fact that there were earlier discussions and a plan at a national level for the funeral of president Mandela, it did not translate into advanced and coordinated planning in the Eastern Cape."

Heads of state from around the world attended the funeral for Mandela, 95, in December 2013. South Africa observed a national mourning period of 10 days after he died on Dec. 5.

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