/ 9 November 2011

Ndebele rubbishes media reports on hotel stays

Ndebele Rubbishes Media Reports On Hotel Stays

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has rejected media reports about his “lavish” hotel stays.

“All public funds utilised for international and domestic accommodation are in accordance with prescribed rules,” Ndebele said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Media reports on this matter are incorrect, misleading and sensational, and based on interpretation by the DA of the information provided in a parliamentary response,” he said.

Some media had reported that Ndebele spent 25 nights at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Johannesburg at a cost of R190 333, and R69 984 for a chauffeur-driven car.

The department said he actually spent only 11 nights at the hotel, and that it was at a Hyatt hotel in Canada.

The minister’s spokesperson said last week that Ndebele did not use chauffeur services when he was in South Africa, and that he would not stay in a hotel if any of his two official residences, in Pretoria and Cape Town, were available.

It was reported that he spent almost a year in hotels between April 2009 and July 2011.

However, the department said he spent only 56 nights in local accommodation and 102 nights in international accommodation over more than two years.

Media also reported that the cost of the minister’s local and international accommodation was R1.4-million.

“The amount spent is R592 768.07,” said the department.

Ndebele has welcomed a probe by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela into his expenses.

“We … welcome the investigation … and the opportunity to explain these false allegations so as to set the public record straight.”

Ndebele said the department reserved the right to take legal action against those making defamatory statements.

“We also reserve the right to pursue legal action against the parties responsible for the defamatory and false allegations being published, including the newspapers concerned,” he said. — Sapa