Pretoria: The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has expressed “shock and disappointment” following the leaking of a confidential forensic report.
“More grave is the fact that the leaked report is different from what was presented to the acting Director-General, Sipho Ntombela and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson,” said departmental spokesperson, Steve Galane.
Earlier this month, the department said it was going to investigate whether any individuals – both inside and outside the department – were involved in corrupt practices in its fisheries division after a preliminary investigation into tender irregularities uncovered a number of concerns in a coastguard contract.
During a briefing in Parliament at the time, Ntombela said the preliminary investigation, which began in April, had found a number of concerns in the contract held by Smit Amandla Marine between 1999 and 2012.
However, he stressed that the report had not touched on any individual who may have been involved, but that the next phase of the investigation, now underway, would consider whether anyone inside the department was involved in the alleged corrupt practices.
Galane said the report, which was leaked to the Democratic Alliance (DA), was different from what was presented to Ntombela and the minister.
“Several differences are noted and while the report in possession of the department does not reveal names of individuals, the report in the DA’s hands explicitly points to specific individuals.
“Again, according to the Ernst & Young report handed to the department, the names of the individuals who are implicated in the investigation were going to be submitted in what they called ‘Phase Two’ of the investigation.
“The department is awaiting the names of the implicated officials so that further action can be taken,” Galane said.
The report submitted to the department was about the investigation on the procurement processes at Fisheries, but raised serious issues about the procurement processes in the appointment of the vessel and crew management company, Smit Amandla Marine (SAM).
The report identified several anomalies pertaining to the fact that proper tender processes had not been followed in the 12 years that SAM held the contract.
“The department notes the recent developments as having gravely compromised the integrity of the investigation, including the confidentiality that we entrusted to Ernst & Young as an independent and respected forensic body.
“The department has lost faith in the work of Ernst & Young and as a result of these concerns, has resolved to put the investigation on hold until further notice,” he said.