/ 26 November 2012

Madonsela finds Tina guilty of violating ethics code


President Jacob Zuma should consider reprimanding Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson for violating the executive ethics code, public protector Thuli Madonsela said on Monday.

Madonsela said the department's acting director general should recover about R150 000 Joemat-Pettersson unlawfully incurred for return flights of her two children and their au pair from Sweden to South Africa in January 2010.

The minister travelled to Sweden in December 2009 on official business, where she held meetings on matters relevant to her portfolio.

The trip was combined with a family holiday, which started at the end of the official trip on December 23. Joemat-Pettersson, however, had to cut the holiday short when she was recalled by the presidency and returned on January 1 2010.

"The return trips of the minister's children and au pair were paid for by the state in violation of the provisions of paragraph 3.4 of chapter 6 of the Ministerial Handbook, in the amount of R151 878," Madonsela found in her report.

The public protector also investigated whether the minister used public funds in occupying expensive accommodation at hotels while she was awaiting the allocation of her official residences in Cape Town and Pretoria. Expenses Joemat-Pettersson incurred include, among others, a month's stay at the Vineyard Hotel and Spa in Cape Town during June and July 2009 at a cost of R134 735, a five-week stay at the Peermont D'Oreal Grande Emperor's Palace in Johannesburg between September 16 and October 21 2009 at a total cost of R289 352 and a month spent at the Pure Toys One CC in Johannesburg during the 2010 Fifa World Cup at a cost of R420 000.

Last year, President Jacob Zuma was forced to fire Sicelo Shiceka, the late minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, after Madonsela found him to have acted unlawfully, of being dishonest with public money and in contravention of the Cabinet's executive ethics code as well as the Constitution. – Sapa