Withdrawal of incorrect statements regarding Ndudane and DAFF internal charges
01 October 2018
On 12 September 2018 a media statement contained certain incorrect statements of fact relating to the Deputy Director-General, Siphokazi Ndudane. The statement incorrectly stated that the Deputy Director-General, Siphokazi Ndudane was found guilty by way of disciplinary hearing in respect of various charges brought against her by the Department. It appears that the information at my disposal was incorrect and certain averments made by me was false. I apologise therefore and for the inconvenience caused to the parties involved.
As a correction, I confirm that disciplinary proceedings in the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries against the Deputy Director-General, Siphokazi Ndudane are currently underway as can be seen from the charge sheet against the DDG. The disciplinary hearing was postponed on 16 August 2018 to an undetermined date. It has not yet been finalised and no Rulings have been made with regards to Ms Ndudane’s guilt by a disciplinary tribunal.
The charge sheet against Ms Siphokazi Ndudane, signed by the Department’s Director-General on 3 September 2018, was submitted to the Western Cape High Court as part of an affidavit in the court case between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) on 11 and 12 September 2018. In this charge sheet, signed on 3 September 2018, Ms Ndudane is facing 39 disciplinary charges of a serious nature, including theft, fraud, forgery, and defeating the ends of justice.
The sheet details 39 disciplinary charges brought against Ms Siphokazi Ndudane, 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. The charges include:
- Ms Ndudane’s alleged 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 allegedly, wilfully and in a grossly negligent manner, misled Parliament by denying these incidents.
- On 2 November 2017 at or near DAFF’s offices in Cape Town, Ms Ndudane allegedly, unlawfully and unprocedurally, 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.
- On or during the 2015/16 financial year, at or near DAFF’s offices in Cape Town, Ms Ndudane allegedly 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.
- Ms Ndudane’s alleged 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.
- On or about January to February 2017, Ms Ndudane’s allegedly refused 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.
- On or about 25 September 2017, Ms Ndudane allegedly 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.
- On or about 18 October 2017 at or near DAFF’s offices in Cape Town, Ms Ndudane allegedly, 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.
- On or about 23 October 2017 at or near DAFF’s offices in Cape Town, Ms Ndudane allegedly 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.
- On or about the period of March to August 2018 at or near DAFF’s offices in Cape Town, Ms Ndudane allegedly 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 and 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, as well as 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 are there allegations that Ms Ndudane falsified the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for West Coast Rock Lobster, which is why this charge sheet became part of the evidence in the case between WWF and DAFF? If this is to be proven true, 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 is Ms Ndudane accused of stealing abalone from the MLRF store rooms in the Western Cape, and allegedly refusing to grant access to the SAPS to conduct verification checks of boxes in storage? Could she be covering up an illicit abalone trade within the Department itself?
3. Why is it alleged that Ms Ndudane appointed Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo to perform Fishing Rights Allocation Processes (FRAP) without allegedly following the appropriate procurement processes, considering that fishermen and women in the Western Cape are still waiting for fishing quotas? Could she be 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 on the 18 June 2018, was a letter 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 Ms Siphokazi Ndudane on precautionary leave following reports of misconduct, only for Ms Ndudane to be suspended again on 5 July 2019.
5. Why is it alleged that Ms Ndudane made fraudulent payments from the Department’s bank account to EMANG BASADI LEGAL AND FORENSIC SERVICES? Could she been using state funds to pay for her personal legal fees?
While we note again that her disciplinary hearing has not been concluded or that she has been brought befroe a court of law yet, we must ask, why the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has yet to take any decisive action against this alleged criminal behaviour by Ms Ndudane which should be viewed in a serious light. Why is there such a delay to have Ms Ndudane answer to these serious charges?
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 have also written 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 alleged corruption reported continues to fester within this Department must be rooted out as a matter of urgency.
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 we believe 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, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism, and Agriculture, 1 October 2018