DA seeks probe into Madikizela-Mandela's Brandfort house project

The DA has appealed to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate alleged fraud and misappropriation of funds in a project aimed at turning the Brandfort house of struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela into a museum. 

DA leader in the Free State Patricia Kopane, said the party wanted the SIU to investigate the officials and politicians who were involved in the project. 

Kopane added that it was an important project that would create tourism and job opportunities for the benefit of the Masilonyana community in the Lejweleputswa District. 

"It is shocking how the ANC government has failed to unlock this potential over the last 12 years, since the project was initially planned." 

The house has been a focal point since Madikizela-Mandela's death on April 2.

Former Free State premier Ace Magashule, who is now the ANC's secretary general, denied any wrongdoing when he spoke to journalists last week outside the stalwart's Soweto home. He reaffirmed that the museum would be built.

"I'm not personally ashamed because we have been in contact since 2007. The family knows there's no government money that's been lost," Magashule said.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Department of Arts and Culture said the project has been assigned to new contractors.

READ: Arts and Culture dept appoints new contractor to complete restoration of Mama Winnie's Brandfort house

Spokesperson Asanda Magaqa said the department had consistently given the house due attention and priority, which included personal engagements with Madikizela-Mandela in the months before she died.

She said Risimati Consulting Engineers had entered into an agreement with the department on March 13.

Madikizela-Mandela was banished to the house by the apartheid regime between 1977 and 1986.

Money was allocated to the Free State government to restore the house as a museum, but years later it still stands derelict.

(Amanda Khoza, News24)

In a report by City Press in June last year, the initial contract holders, the Independent Development Trust (IDT), told the publication that the department initially allocated R3m to the project. An amount ofvR1 858 195.71 of that money as transferred to them as an implementing agent to oversee the project.

City Press reported at the time that they appointed a contractor for R2.5m in November 2013 but terminated the contract one year later.

IDT spokesperson Lesego Mashigo told the publication that they had spent R593 622 on consultancy fees, including one payment of R117 543, "mainly for preliminaries and general site establishment and earthworks".

He said that the scope of work was later reduced, bringing the project down to R1.36m.

"The IDT was awaiting approval from the department to proceed with the appointment of a [second] contractor for the implementation of the reduced scope of work when its agreement was terminated on November 9, 2016."