Staff taking ‘advantage’ of KZN royal household

2012-10-24 08:46
Nalini Naidoo, The Witness
Public servants have been caught stealing from King Goodwill Zwelithini, under the pretence of making purchases for his queens.

A forensic investigation found that officials of the Royal Household department had bought groceries totalling more than R600 000 for personal use.

They had claimed that the groceries were bought on behalf of the king’s queens.

Similarly, livestock vaccines and food supplements were bought for more than R26 000, but these were not used for the king’s cattle.

Audit reports

The provincial legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) learnt about the investigation while reviewing the department’s audit reports.

Scopa member Dr Lionel Mtshali (IFP) said it was shocking to learn of the officials’ duplicity.

They were fleecing the department in order to enrich themselves.

Mtshali said the officials must be made to apologise to the queens.

He questioned whether they should be allowed to continue to work in the department and wanted to know what disciplinary action was taken against them.

Jo-Ann Downs (ACDP) agreed with Mtshali, saying that the department, through lack of controls, was being fleeced. She questioned the exorbitant figure spent on travel by the department, totalling
R6 million, or 10% of its budget.

“No other department pays even close to that for travel.”

The king in September raised his suspicions that the Royal Household Department was using his name in vain, after he was slated for apparently wanting another palace for his sixth queen.

It turned out the request was, in fact, made by officials in the department and KZN director-general Nhlanhla Ngidi duly apologised.

At the time, the king said people would be surprised to learn that all the money that was always said to be budgeted for him, in fact, ended up taking care of the officials of the Royal Household Department, and never reached him.

No controls
Scopa members yesterday expressed concern at the lack of action taken against the department’s errant officials.

Downs urged the department to implement the recommendations of the forensic investigation.

Ngidi assured Scopa members that the recommendations would be implemented.

He also blamed officials for taking advantage of a lack of policies.

“I found that there was no policy at all within the department, so there were no rules to govern processes and procedures.

“That is why certain members of staff have taken advantage,” Ngidi said.

A spokesperson for the king declined to comment.