NPO whistle-blower disappears without a trace

March 12, 2018

by Justus De Goede MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Social Development

The DA is shocked by media reports of the disappearance of Nomawethu Kunene, who is the Deputy Director of A re Agang a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) providing shelter for abused women.

Her disappearance is alarming as Kunene appeared to become the target of harassment, including a bogus arrest by police in December last year, presumably to put pressure on her to keep quiet about events around the funneling of money from the Gauteng Social Development Department to other destinations.

A re Agang made headlines last year, after being used by the Gauteng Social Development as a “conduit” for payments to other organisations funded by the Department.

This NPO processed one payment of R14 million to Life Esidimeni and without prior warning received a further transfer of over R 10 million. These payments made by the department were a blatant violation of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The details of the transfer were unclear, as it appeared to come from a source other than the Department.

A re Ageng staff suspected that these transfers were irregular and notified the Department to confirm that it had made this transfer. In November 2017, A re Ageng’s bank account was hacked and R5 million transferred to a fuel sale company, which immediately paid a large number of suppliers to obtain a huge quantity of diesel fuel, which was quickly transferred to tankers “for export to a neighbouring country”.

The Department then instructed the NPO to transfer the balance to an account different to the one stipulated in its agreement with the department. The NPO refused to do this until the authenticity of the source of the funds had been determined.

There was a vicious campaign by Social Development officials, whose names are known to us, to force A re Ageng to transfer the remaining money and repeated threats to shut down this NPO.

Gauteng Social Development MEC, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza was made aware of the behaviour of her officials and did nothing to stop them.

The South Gauteng High Court ruled that the remaining R5 million be placed in an escrow account until the resolution of the dispute.

The disappearance of Nomawethu Kunene fits the pattern of ruthless perpetrators of state looting.

Its high time that both Gauteng Premier, David Makhura and MEC Mayathula-Khoza break their silence on the matter instead of targeting the victim’s NPO.

The DA calls on Premier Makhura to honour his claim of stamping out corruption, by initiating a high level investigation into the matter and the SAPS  must assist the family in locating the missing whistle blower and afford her protection.

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