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Director-General suspended over inflated funeral costs


A top South African civil servant in charge of a multibillion rand budget has been suspended for his role in blown-up state funeral costs.

Public Works Director-General Sam Vukela was suspended after being implicated  in fraudulent contracts and irregular payments of high profile funerals of:

  • Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the struggle stalwart and ex-wife of the great Nelson Mandela.
  •  Dr Zola Skweyiya, former cabinet minister and liberation struggle veteran.
  • Ambassador Billy Modise, retired head of state protocol and also a struggle veteran.

The three funerals cost the state R76-million.


Patricia de Lille, the Minister of Public Works, was granted special powers by President Cyril Ramaphosa to act against Vukela. Under the South African law, only the president can appoint or suspend a head of department.

De Lille said: ”I confirm that on Tuesday 28 July 2020, I placed the director-general of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, advocate Sam Vukela on precautionary suspension, effective of as of Wednesday 29 July 2020, pending the finalisation of the disciplinary processes instituted against the DG.”

She explained that her move against the DG came after she had received reports from two investigations. These are:

  • A report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers which investigated allegations of irregularities related to the provision of moveable infrastructure for official funerals.
  • A report by the Public Service Commission which investigated allegations of irregular appointments within the senior management service of the department. 
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An internal disciplinary process, chaired by a senior advocate, would be convened in due course, the minister added.


By The African Mirror