SIU probes BEE fronting claims on Cape farms
IOL / 29 SEPTEMBER 2018 = 11:30 / SOYISO MALITI
Cape Town - The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is looking into BEE fronting on Western Cape farms, and incorporating this investigation into an existing proclamation relating to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
The allegation of BEE fronting practice caught the attention of the SIU after a recent Weekend Argus story.
File picture: Zhou Liangjun/Xinhua
BEE fronting occurs when a farmer, under the pretence that previously disadvantaged farmworkers will benefit from the profits of the land, applies for and is authorised to implement an equity scheme.
Witzenberg Rural Development Centre paralegal Naomi Betana, who works with farmworkers, also confirmed that the SIU asked her for relevant information.
Human Rights Commission provincial head Chris Nissen added his office was looking into BEE fronting at a farm in Wolseley.
SIU deputy head Caroline Mampuru said the unit wanted to incorporate the investigation with an existing proclamation.
The president signs a proclamation for the unit to investigate. In recent years, it took long periods to obtain proclamations from the presidency.
However, Mampuru said the unit recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, which would see a proclamation is processed within 21 days.
Mampuru referred to changes in the organisation. She said a lot of its investigations in the Western Cape related to the contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.
“We’ve a number of proclamations that are running in the Western Cape.
“They may be handled at a national level, but they have a provincial footprint,” Mampuru said.
She said investigations were ongoing. Mampuru said the Western Cape lacked whistle-blowers.
“What we want to do in the provinces, in terms of the new organisational structure, we’re creating two positions: head of the province and head of investigations. These positions didn’t exist before,” Mampuru said.
Asked about the short- and long-term plans of the unit, Mampuru said they would introduce these positions across the country in the long term, while, as a short-term goal, they would capacitate the offices.
She said in the past three years there were several proclamations, which affected this province. These proclamations related to the departments of transport, land reform and justice and constitutional development in the province.
Asked about the challenges faced by the unit in the province, she said the Western Cape was a big province.
“I believe there has been a lot of public funds that have been spent; there is a lot of supply chain management (irregularities) happening daily, but we do not get a lot of referrals from whistle-blowers, heads of departments and political leadership.
“The Western Cape is quiet. In Gauteng, on the other hand, we have quite a number of cases and many referrals,” Mampuru said.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER