download - trace of scams in Parks Board

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					Probe finds no
trace of scams
in Parks Board
  Officials implicated in nepotism and corruption
  claims hail audit firm s finding as moral victory
Environment    Tourism Editor

NO evidence has been found to
corroborate any of the allegations
of corruption levelled against the
Eastern Cape Parks Board the flag
ship parastatal tasked with manag
ing 21 nature reserves
   The finding is made in a report by
Grant Thornton the audit firm ap
pointed by the economic affairs envi
ronment and tourism department to
probe the allegations by environmen
tal consultant Dr Bool Smuts
   The Grant Thornton report has not
been released yet      but the depart
ment s MEC Mbulelo Sogoni respond
ed yesterday to questions about it
   The probe was launched a year ago
and Smuts provided the investigators
with 11 instances of alleged corrup
tion nepotism or poor corporate gov                  DR BOOL SMUTS
ernance by members of the board and               No substance to allegations
its executive management
   Sogoni said He Smuts refused to          vestigation was done although hun
provide a sworn statement on his al         dreds of thousands of taxpayers rands
                                            have been wasted because of it
legations This did cast some doubt on
the accusations but the investigation           I am committed to my role with the
                                            foundation and the board and conser
proceeded anyway
    The final report recommends that        vation in the province and we just
some of the board s management sys          want to get on with our work now
tems should be improved to guard               Facing court action from the founda
against possible corruption but no          tion Smuts had withdrawn accusation
body was found liable or responsible        against the organisation and offered to
for any specific action                     make a payment of R100 000 to it which
   Parks Board chairman Simphiwe            had been accepted in a settlement be
Somdyala said he was happy that the         fore the High Court Muir said
report had been completed                      Smuts was previously employed by
    Smearing individuals integrity          the foundation on its work in the Bavi
without foundation makes one angry          aanskloof mega reserve He resigned
The report proves there was no sub          after he was called in by the founda
stance to these allegations                 tion s management to talk about a
    Now we would like to get on with        number of complaints which had been
our job of improving the performance        received from farmers and other stake
and contribution of the board               holders about his dealings with them
   Somdyala said his understanding             He subsequently established the
was that the systems identified as re       conservation NGO Landmark aimed at
quiring improvement included disclo         developing conservancies and saving
sure of interest and conflict of interest   the Baviaanskloof leopards
policies These are systems that we             He is now contracted to the Coega
have already put in place but we are        Development Corporation and the Na
happy to go through them and see that       tional Ports Authority to provide ser
we are in line                              vices to the Coega environmental mon
  The individuals and bodies accused        itoring committee
by Smuts included Andrew Muir and               Smuts said yesterday there was
the Wilderness Foundation                    still a High Court matter on the table
   Muir is director of the foundation       He would not say who this involved
and deputy chairman of the East Cape           Asked why he had refused to pro
Parks Board                                 vide a sworn statement       he did not
   He said the findings of the invest       want to comment further
igation represented a moral victory for        Asked about the R100 000 settle
both of these institutions                  ment he said   No comment
    We are very pleased that this in                       grogers@johnnicec co za

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