GPL committees call on Premier Makhura to institute forensic investigation into projects at Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

The Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s (GPL) Portfolio Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development and Infrastructure Development and Property Management are calling on the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura to institute an urgent forensic investigation into the projects at Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve in Heidelberg, Lesedi Local Municipality.

According to the oversight report from the two portfolio committees, there are currently no tourist facilities at the nature reserve; the oxidation tank services at Kareekloof Resort are not in operation as the resort is closed and non-functional and there is an incomplete pump station.

Furthermore, the joint committee also found that the sewage system is old and cannot handle the current demand; the southern water supply line is functional but very old and requires regular maintenance; the northern water supply line is complete but has not been commissioned yet owing to inadequate pressure for efficient water supply. The tourism side is closed to the public due to unreliable power supply, lack of water supply and the dysfunctional sewer system.

The project, which was initiated in 2008, with an expected completion date in 2009, is still not complete after all these years. In addition, the original budget was estimated at R8, 6 million and to date, R31 million has already been spent. To complete the project, according to the Infrastructure department, a further R49 million will be required.

This project was previously investigated by the Public Protector and the NPA, which found that the conduct of the Infrastructure Department was improper in terms of the Constitution and Public Management Finance Act, which resulted in maladministration in terms of the Public Protector Act.

Through the hard work of the DA members who are part of these portfolio committees, the joint committee then made the following recommendations:

• Premier David Makhura should refer the matters relating to Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve projects for forensic investigation and a progress report should be submitted to the joint committee by 26th February 2021.
• The MEC should institute a special joint task team to implement immediate interventions to secure the reserve perimeter including risk mitigation due to veldfire season
• The MEC should engage on a consultative process with the task team with the view to secure collaboration and investment from Gauteng’s private business sector as well as Gauteng residents who are clients of the Reserve
• A report should be provided to the committee outlining the process undertaken to enhance security at the Reserve
• Provide clarity in terms of the nature of work/construction that is currently taking place at the Reserve and from which budget these constructors are being paid from.
• To present to the Joint Committee the terms of the joint venture that has been formed to deal with the repositioning of the Reserve’s strategy.
• Provide a detailed report on the legal steps that have been taken against the service providers that received payment without completing their work. To further commence with the process of recovering monies that have been paid irregularly, if any, to these constructors.

The DA will be closely monitoring the implementations of these recommendations and calls on Gauteng residents to engage robustly in all public engagements so that as Gauteng residents we can save this iconic piece of our heritage.