NEWS & ANALYSIS

Here's the evidence for DAFF's complicity in looting of our oceans - Beverley Schäfer

DA WCape MPP says charge sheet against DDG Siphokazi Ndudane contains astounding allegations

DAFF is complicit in the blatant looting of our oceans

12 September 2018

The Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape is in possession of a charge sheet which details the crimes committed in the fisheries sector by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Deputy Director-General, Ms Siphokazi Ndudane, as outlined in a disciplinary hearing held on 3 September 2018 at the Department’s offices in Pretoria.

Of the 39 charges brought against Ms Siphokazi Ndudane, she has been found guilty of, among others, 155 counts of fraud, 37 counts of theft, extortion, forgery, defeating the ends of justice, insubordination, and the contravention of section 217 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic 108 of 1996. These counts include the following:

  1. Ms Ndudane’s involvement in incidents of abalone theft of an estimated value of R20 125 750, 00 which took place on 25 September 2017, 8 January 2018, and 15 May 2018. DAFF Financial Management Acting Chief Director, Ms Nazima Parker and/or Acting Chief Director, Thembalethu Vico, were also involved in the incident of 8 January. None of the abovementioned persons reported the incidents to the authorities, and Ms Ndudane wilfully and in a grossly negligent manner, misled Parliament by denying these incidents.
  1. On 2 November 2017 at or near DAFF’s offices in Cape Town, Ms Ndudane unlawfully and unprocedurally, and in a grossly negligent manner signed and falsified documents pertaining to the determination and approval of the 2017/18 West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) total allowable catch (TAC), knowing very well that the document had been falsified.
  1. On or during the 2015/16 financial year, at or near DAFF’s offices in Cape Town, Ms Ndudane wilfully or negligently mismanaged state funds by appointing Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo to perform Fishing Rights Allocation Processes (FRAP), without following the appropriate procurement processes. This has a direct effect on the allocation of fishing quotas to deserving fishermen in the Western Cape.
  1. Ms Ndudane’s theft of R2 377 556, 64 through the approval of payments over the period of October 2016 to December 2017 made for confiscated abalone stock, knowing that the approval of said payments is not within her jurisdiction, and that the stock was the property of and/or in the lawful possession of the Department.
  1. Ms Ndudane’s refusal, on or about January to February 2017, to grant access to the South African Police Service (SAPS) to enter the Marine Living Resource Fund (MLRF) storeroom, to conduct verification checks of alleged stolen boxes of abalone, deliberately defeating the ends of justice.
  1. On or about 25 September 2017, Ms Ndudane failed to inform the SAPS of an act of theft or loss of abalone with an estimated value of R3 633 000, 00 belonging to the Department, which was illegally removed from the premises in Gansbaai.
  1. On or about 18 October 2017 at or near DAFF’s offices in Cape Town, Ms Ndudane unlawfully and intentionally stole an amount of R630 300, 00 by transferring said amount from the Department’s bank account to that of EMANG BASADI LEGAL AND FORENSIC SERVICES, knowing very well that said amount was not supposed to be paid by the Department, the property of the Department or in the lawful possession of the Accounting Officer.
  1. On or about 23 October 2017 at or near DAFF’s offices in Cape Town, Ms Ndudane unlawfully and intentionally defrauded the Department of an amount of R88 000, 00 by approving the transferral of said amount from the Department’s bank account to that of EMANG BASADI LEGAL AND FORENSIC SERVICES, knowing very well that said amount was not supposed to be paid by the Department, the property of the Department or in the lawful possession of the Accounting Officer.
  1. On or about the period of March to August 2018 at or near DAFF’s offices in Cape Town, Ms Ndudane facilitated a deal under the auspices of a ‘donation’ of fishing equipment and gear, on behalf of the Department between private individuals and/or entities, namely: Mr John Burton and LETSUTSA LAAFRIKA (PTY) LTD without following correct procedure.

Given the seriousness of these charges considering the crisis the Western Cape province is currently grappling with in relation to organised and drug-related crime linked to international abalone poaching syndicates, and a failure by the Department to empower small-scale fishermen and women through the efficient awarding of fishing quotas, the following questions must be asked:

  1. Why has Ms Ndudane falsified the Total Allowable Catch for West Coast Rock Lobster, and what are her interests in this sector of our fisheries which have caused her to ignore scientific advice necessary to protect natural stock levels? Are there personal interests that she seeks to promote at the expense of our marine ecosystem and fisheries?
  2. Why has Ms Ndudane stolen abalone from the MLRF store rooms in the Western Cape, and refused to grant access to the SAPS to conduct verification checks of boxes in storage? Is she covering up an illicit abalone trade within the Department itself?
  3. Why has Ms Ndudane appointed Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo to perform Fishing Rights Allocation Processes (FRAP) without following the appropriate procurement processes, considering that fishermen and women in the Western Cape are still waiting for fishing quotas? Is she fast tracking the select awarding of fishing quotas to a connected elite while our small-scale fishermen and women continue to be denied access to our oceans?
  4. Why is Ms Ndudane fighting her own suspension in light of these charges, and who else within the Department is responsible for protecting her from accountability? This given that on 18 June 2018, a letter was issued by DAFF Minister, Senzeni Zokwana, to withdraw the Delegations of Authority from his Head of Department, Mr M. M. Mlengana, annulling a decision to place Siphokazi Ndudane on precautionary leave following reports of misconduct, only for Ms Ndudane to be suspended again on 5 July 2019.
  5. Why has Ms Ndudane made fraudulent payments from the Department’s bank account to EMANG BASADI LEGAL AND FORENSIC SERVICES? Is she using state funds to pay for her legal fees to shield her from prosecution for blatant theft and fraud? Why is Ms Ndudane not in jail?

The Department has yet to take any decisive action against this criminal behaviour by Ms Ndudane when it has now been proven that she has blatantly and tragically abetted the illegal abalone trade in the Western Cape which continues to ravage both our oceans and our small fishing communities. 

On 27 March 2018, I wrote an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking him to urgently address the corruption in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the interests of our fishing sector. My request fell upon deaf ears.

I have invited DAFF Minister, Senzeni Zokwana and his officials on numerous occasions, the most recent being on 20 June 2018, to appear before my Standing Committee to explain these allegations, which have now been revealed to be truths. To this day, the Department has failed to appear before the Western Cape Provincial Parliament and dodged accountability at every turn.

I will now be writing to the Public Protector to request a formal investigation into the senior management of the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, including Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Siphokazi Ndudane, Tembalethu Vico, and Nazima Parker. The corruption which continues to fester within this Department must be rooted out as a matter of urgency.

I will also be consulting with my legal advisors to determine whether the party can lay further charges against the Department in light of these shocking revelations.

As the DA in the Western Cape, we remain committed to protecting and preserving the vitality of our oceans, along with the important economy and jobs they sustain for our people. This includes rooting out the corruption which festers at the heart of the DAFF and threatens to collapse the Western Cape’s fisheries. We will not rest until this Department is cleaned out and functioning to best serve the people who depend on it.

Statement issued by Beverley Schäfer, MPP, Standing Committee Chairperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism, and Agriculture, 12 September 2018