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R13m payment to lawyers to be probed

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By SAPA

The North West standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) will investigate how a law firm was paid over R13 million, the provincial legislature said on Thursday.

Spokeswoman Namhla Luhabe said former finance MEC Loiusa Mabe, current MEC Paul Sebegoe, and the acting head of the department Geo Paul failed to give the committee a clear account of procurement processes followed in appointing a law firm.

Morake Attorneys has been paid over R13 million to organise a disciplinary hearing of the suspended head of department, Johannes Mohlala. He was suspended in July 2011 for, among other things, lack of compliance with instructions from his superiors.

Luhabe said Sebegoe presented to the committee, saying Morake Attorneys had been paid R15.4 million for handling the hearing of Mohlala, the chief financial officer, Harrieta Kasirivu and the chief director, Peter Mogoane.

“The cases of the latter two have been finalised but both are appealing. Morake Attorneys have been paid R13 332,449.95 for the disciplinary hearings of the three and was also paid R2 126 930.33, for other legal matters by the same department.”

The acting head, Geo Paul, could not give the committee satisfactory answers when asked how Morake Attorneys were appointed, Luhabe said.

Morake Attorneys's fee was about five times higher than that of its counterparts.

Committee chairman Hlomane Chauke was expected to meet premier Thandi Modise next week.

Representatives of the Public Protector, the Hawks and the public service commissioner were expected to take part in the meeting to discuss how an investigation should unfold. - Sapa

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