Former communications minister Dina Pule must apologise to Parliament, the communications department, and the Sunday Times for “persistently lying and unethical conduct”, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Thursday.
“I am asking honourable Pule to apologise to the Sunday Times for the persistent insults and denial of the truth that she eventually admitted to me, and affected staff members of the department of communications for placing them in an unethical situation involving persistent lies and deceit.
“Honourable Pule is being asked to apologise to Parliament for persistently misleading this august constitutional pillar and never admitting the truth right until the end. Our understanding is that she never admitted to Parliament the full circumstances of what happened,” Madonsela said in Pretoria.
She was releasing finalised reports on her investigations into allegations of corruption and a potential conflict of interest against Pule.
It involved her appointment of service providers to do event management for the ICT Indaba in Cape Town held from June 4 to 7 last year.
Madonsela found Pule unlawfully extended her spousal benefits to her romantic partner Phosane Mngqibisa.
“I had to deal with allegations that honourable Pule had a relationship with a certain Mr Mngqibisa which influenced his behaviour in the indaba. It was also alleged that this Mr Mngqibisa was represented to the department of communications as honourable Pule’s companion and that he improperly benefited as such from the departmental finances.”
Madonsela found that despite numerous denials, Pule told her department Mngqibisa was her official companion.
“The key evidence is a form completed upon her appointment as the deputy minister of communications. By her own admission to me, honourable Pule had a romantic relationship.”
Madonsela said at a meeting Pule told her Mngqibisa was not her spouse as he was married to someone else under civil law.
She said Pule pledged to repay the money spent by the communications department. She had since paid back more than R89,000. The money was spent as Mngqibisa accompanied Pule on overseas trips, as a spouse.
“Honourable Pule’s conduct was unlawful. I also consider it grossly improper and unethical that she tried to pass the buck to her staff,” said Madonsela.
She said the amount of money spent on Mngqibisa had not yet been determined but the department should be reimbursed every cent.
According to further reports, the Protector found no unlawfulness or impropriety on behalf of the DoC and Carol Bouwer Designs, which hosted the controversial ICT Indaba in 2012.
Posting on Twitter, journalist Paul Vecchiatto reported that Carol Bouwer accepted the money innocently and does not have to repay the R10m she received from the DoC.
Belinda Moses, reporting for Eyewitness News, said the Public Protector also wants an ethics seminar and handbook for Cabinet ministers.
The Protector reportedly said that such seminars are held in the US and help to keep everything above board.
Reporting with SAPA