Carletonville carries the cost for Nkandla
Kaya FM News investigation into why Carletonville police station was abandoned by its staff has led us all the way to President Jacob Zuma’s homestead 566km away in Nkandla. The community of Carletonville on Gauteng’s West Rand, lost out in the reallocation of funds when the Department of Public Works moved money away from the Dolomite Risk Management Programme that was meant to shore up the foundations of government buildings.
One such building was the sprawling SAPS complex in Carletonville that consists of barracks for single officers, homes for married officers, a massive police garage, a coroner’s office along with a charge office. The entire premises have been left in ruin for over 6 years. Vandals have looted and gutted the government owned property. The buildings were abandoned by its staff when sinkholes started forming on the property due to it being built on dolomite. Starved of funds to maintain and repair the building, the Department of Public Works (DPW) were more concerned with the reallocation of the funds to Nkandla than seeing that Carletonville’s police station – which serves a population of 23 000 – was in proper working order.
Some underground repairs have been done in the last 6 years, but no time table has been given for the rest of the repairs. In a statement DPW said that the repairs were complex and took time. The DPW also gave no clear indication as to what line item in their budget reflected their commitment to fund to the maintenance and repairs of the police station. Independent experts Dr Eduard Vorster Geo-technical Engineer and Tony A’Bear an engineering geologist both said the rehabilitation of a site hit by dolomite should take no longer than one month once commissioned and technically there is no need to wait 6 years.
Going through publically accessible documentation (The Public Protector’s report, DPW Budgets, DPW presentations before parliament and the annual reports of the DPW), Kaya FM News has traced a path of inflation of budget allocations in the DPW in different projects only for it to be moved to the already overinflated Nkandla project. Community leader Abe Malefo was not initially aware of the police station being abandoned, but felt that Carletonville has been neglected by government and this is clear evidence of it. “We are the most neglected area in Gauteng”
The officials overseeing the construction in Nkandla are now facing internal censure for their part in the overspending, but Kaya FM News contends that the misappropriation starts further up the chain in the budgeting process and shifting of resources away from programmes that would meet urgent needs in communities.
The Public Protector’s report with regard to security upgrade of President Zuma’s private residence revealed that R20million of funding was reallocated from the Dolomite Risk Management Projects in the Dept of Public Works. The Report went on to say that this programme was under funded. This is only the tip of the Iceberg. Further investigation by the Kaya FM News team has shown there are multiple layers to this story.
Dolomite in Gauteng is not a small problem. With over 20% of land in the province being dolomitic, it poses a massive problem when coming to any form of construction. Most municipalities have some type of Dolomite Risk Management Programme, to negate the effect of dolomite – a porous rock that leads to the forming of sinkholes. The West Rand is particularly prone to this phenomenon, due to mining activity in the area. There are well over a 1000 sinkholes in the province. In Khutsong near Carltonville over 15 000 people have to be moved due to their homes being constructed on dolomitic land.
As far as we could establish that the Dolomite Risk Management Projects in the Dept of Public Works are for ascertaining the risk that dolomite posed to state owned buildings ie: Police Stations, SANDF bases, courts etc… Not only was it supposed to evaluate the risk, but make repairs to the buildings affected by dolomite. Documents in the public domain reveal the overall budget allocation increased from R37million in 2005/2006 to a proposed whopping R160million in 2010/2011, which was cut to R62 million in 2012/13. This did not pass unnoticed and was questioned by both ANC and opposition MP’s on the Public Services Committee at the time.
No reason is given for inflating this figure in either the department’s annual reports or the different Ministers that occupied the post of Public Works budget speeches. In fact there is no mention of dolomite in any of these documents as to the projects or projected costs. Why was this line item inflated and not explained by the department.
DPW officials revealed before parliament that over half of the R160million budget was allocated to the SAPS. This is surprising in that SAPS property is only one fifth the size of the SANDF which had the second highest allocation of R62million of the DRM budget. SANDF has also has well publicised challengers with dolomite, one of it being at Waterkloof Air Force base in Tshwane. Thus it is within reason for it to receive a sizable share of the allocated budget for fighting dolomite.
The only Dolomite Risk Management Projects that could be established with regard to the SAPS are the upgrades to three police stations in Soweto and two in Erkhululeni and one in Tswhane since 2005. The Soweto tenders were only advertised in November of 2013, when it already had the budget to do so in 2010 /11.
The Public Protector’s report discovered that on the 14 June 2010, R20 million was transferred from the Dolomite Risk Management Project into the Nkandla Project. R18 million was moved from other DPW capital projects on the 13 July 2010. On 7 March 2012 R36 million was moved to fund Nkandla and on the 12 September 2012, close to R40 million was moved from other projects in DPW to the Nkandla. All the while the police station in Carletonville was derelict, during these allocations to Nkandla. The reallocated funds were paying for a fire pool, chicken coop, cattle kraal and tuck-shop. Nkandla was the priority and Carletonville was not.The DPW stated that the money came out of savings from other capital projects within the dept. in its submission to the public protector. This is false. A saving is made only once a project has been completed and come in under budget. What in fact happened was a reallocation of budget during the in year budget adjustment. Reallocation is not unusual as it is a good means of allocating unused funds to where they can be used. To achieve this there has to be an application to the Central Budget Committee of DPW, then has to go for further approval from The Treasury. With millions being pushed towards the Nkandla project, it was up to these two state entities to raise the red flag regarding the efficacy of the shifting of the funds to the Nkandla. They did not; they kept feeding and feeding the Nkandla project while being aware that this is happening at the expense of more critical programmes that were initially budgeted for. They have not been held accountable for lack of monitoring and only the lower level officials have been held to account.
DA MP’s Anchen Dreyer and Hermanus Groenewald who blew the whistle on the dilapidated state of the police station in 2010, both contend that this is just the start and that real culprits are the senior officials on the Central Budget Committee in Public works and National Treasury who misallocated the funds, but it is only the officials working directly on the Nkandla project that are being held to account.
In the meantime the costs kept mounting for the SA taxpayer and the people of Carletonville. The DPW has paid R157 000 in rent a month to rent alternate premises for SAPS offices in Carletonville since 2009 making it R10 000 000 in total. Despite Kaya FM’s best efforts to get direct answers out of DPW as to the funding of the maintenance of the Carletonville Police Precinct. Their response was not specific and they did not give a time line when the police station would be in operation.
The Kaya FM News investigation shows that misallocation and corruption is not a victimless crime. Communities are unaware they are victims, when resources are reallocated to projects that are not in line with government priorities.
At this moment the police station in Carletonville continues to sink into a hole.