Hawks arrest government officials over Winnie Madikizela-Mandela museum fraud

The Hawks on Tuesday arrested five suspects – including a former head of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and two former municipal managers of the Lejweleputswa District Municipality – for fraudulent activities around the Brandfort Museum project.

The project was meant to transform the house Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was banished to by the apartheid government into a museum. The house was in Brandfort, Free State.

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The renovations have since stalled because of rising costs as well as the money that was allocated for the project – as much as R3 million – going missing.

Five suspects arrested

The five suspects arrested are between the ages of 41 and 81. They were arrested in Free State and Gauteng by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation.

“It is alleged that during the period of January 2008 until December 2010, money was allocated to the Brandfort Museum project, popularly known as the Winnie Mandela Museum, by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture,” said Free State spokesperson for the Hawks, Captain Christopher Singo.

“The money that was allocated was then misused and the service providers were appointed without following the proper procurement processes.”

More than R700 000 lost

Singo added that the project led to the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture losing more than R700 000.

The suspects are expected to appear at the Welkom Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, 21 September 2022.

They are facing charges of fraud, theft, contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act. 

Singo said the Hawks expect to make more arrests in the near future.

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