Irregular expenditure in Department of Justice balloons to R2.9 billion
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Cape Town – The Justice and Constitutional Development Department has disclosed R2.963 billion in irregular expenditure that was incurred as at March 31, 2021.
Head of department Doc Mashabane revealed this in the annual report tabled in Parliament recently.
Mashabane said a total of 34 new cases amounting to R75 million were detected and reported to the National Treasury.
“In total, irregular expenditure increased by R401.6m during the financial year 2020/2021. The increase includes expenditure amounting to R140.3m for the previous financial years incurred by the department,” he said.
Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke found that effective and appropriate steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure amounting to R401 570 000.
“The majority of the irregular expenditure disclosed in the financial statements was caused by non-compliance with supply chain management legislation,” she said.
However, Mashabane said nine cases of irregular expenditure to the value of R2.089m were condoned by the National Treasury where the Department implemented appropriate corrective action and consequence management.
He also aid irregular expenditure to the value of R667m was currently under investigation by the Special Investigations Unit for possible fraud and collusion.
“Thirty-three cases to the value of R429m are under disciplinary process by the department,” Mashabane said.
He stated that meetings were held during February and March 2021 with various branches in the department to address the root causes of the irregular expenditure and provide solutions in order to prevent future recurrences of irregular expenditure.
Mashabane also said there was R2.415m fruitless and wasteful expenditure as at March 2021, with at least 18 new cases amounting to R18 000 detected and reported to the National Treasury.
“Eighty-seven reported cases to the value of R65 000 were written off where responsible officials either resigned, where witnesses from other entities or members of the public could not be traced by the department,” he said.
A total of R3 000 was resolved as not fruitless or wasteful, while R36 000 was recovered from the responsible officials.
Meanwhile, Maluleke rapped the department on the knuckles for not making estimate settlement amounts for claims against it.
This after she found dormant cases were included in the opening balance of contingencies.
“Furthermore, the department included amounts in contingent liabilities incurred during the year without being required as part of legal proceedings.
“Consequently, contingent liabilities was overstated by R234 610 613,” she said.
Maluleke found that the department disclosed R967 744 000 as a contingent asset.
“This was due to disputes with client departments relating to the amounts owing as at March 31, 2021,” she said.
But the department said claims against it were to the tune of R3 961 300.
It said contingent liabilities mainly consisted of summonses received by the department, of which the outcome and timing was uncertain.
The department insisted that the contingent liability disclosed was based on management estimates of the department’s financial exposure.
“The assessment of the malicious prosecution and unlawful arrest against the department is based on the outcome history of these cases over the past three years. Other cases are assessed on a case-by-case basis,” the report said.
On the contingent assets, the report said it consisted of disputed balances owed by client departments relating to legal fees paid on their behalf through the Office of the State Attorney.
“The department is engaging the relevant client departments in order to resolve the disputes and recover the outstanding balances,” the report said.