The ANC has vowed to launch an investigation into claims that public funds, released for Nelson Mandela's memorials, may have been misappropriated.
"Our conscience is alarmed by these allegations, that at the time of sadness, there could be such alleged occurrences," said Mlibo Qoboshiyane, the Eastern Cape provincial minister who is also the ANC's regional head of elections.
"We will urgently seek answers [from the municipal authorities] about how this money was spent," said Qoboshiyane.
An Eastern Cape provincial newspaper alleged that a senior official of the ANC had embezzled part of the money released by a municipality to transport mourners to the anti-apartheid icon's memorial services last month.
Citing its own research, the Saturday Dispatch said R5.9-million was paid to a local transport company linked to the ANC official.
The paper claimed not all of it went to driving mourners to the memorial service and suggested some of the money went into printing ANC t-shirts.
On Saturday the opposition had demanded an investigation into the how the funds were used.
Opposition councillors in the Buffalo City Metropolitan municipality had raised concerns after media investigations showed that even the address that appeared on the transport company's invoice was apparently false.
"We want a forensic investigation into this. It's a scandal," Jerome Mdyolo, a municipal councillor for the opposition Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), said on Saturday.
A councillor with the opposition Democratic Alliance said even the address that appeared on the transport company's invoice was apparently false.
"Now imagine you get a slip for R5.9-million and the address on the invoice is incorrect and fraudulent. It raises your eyebrows," said councillor Terence Fritz. "So we are asking for an investigation into that."
Fritz said his party was not against the release of the funds "because we couldn't put any monetary value to [Mandela's] legacy and what he did and what he meant for us", but it will not tolerate the abuse of public funds.
Counting down to elections
As South Africa heads towards general elections this year, the ANC is facing tough polls with voters increasingly disillusioned by allegations of corruption plaguing the party.
President Jacob Zuma this month kicked off his party's election campaign with a slew of promises to crack down on rampant graft and poverty.
But his unpopularity was on show during Mandela's memorial service in December when angry South Africans booed him at the event which was broadcast live throughout the world. – Sapa-AFP