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Davies calls for investigation into NEF head

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has called for a forensic investigation into the National Empowerment Fund's (NEF) head, the Sunday Times reported.

"The department has requested the NEF board to investigate certain allegations received from a purported whisteblower," said Davies's spokesperson Sidwell Medupe.

"The first phase of the investigation must establish whether anyone has a case to answer."

On Friday, the NEF board released a statement confirming an investigation would be conducted. "Deloitte will conduct a forensic investigation into the allegations that have been levelled against the NEF chief executive and two other NEF employees, which will include an assessment of the veracity of the charges."

 told the newspaper she could not respond to questions about the investigation as it was sub judice. She denied reports that she had been suspended or placed on special leave. "As far as I am aware I'm still the CEO of the NEF," Mthethwa, the wife of Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, told the newspaper.

The Sunday Times said Mthethwa was put on special leave at a board meeting on Friday. The board's chairperson Thando Mhlambiso denied that a decision was made to put her on special leave.

This week, Business Day reported that the fund had to write off R290-million worth of nonperforming loans last year.

In July, Davies called for a report into the NEF's R34.1-million funding of upmarket boutique Luminance, in Hyde Park, Johannesburg. He reportedly said he wanted to determine whether the funding of Luminance was in line with the NEF's mandate and whether there was a need to strengthen that mandate.

In August, Mthethwa defended the decision to fund the boutique. At the time, she was quoted in the New Age newspaper as saying that the controversy around the boutique arose "perhaps because some people do not see the need for women empowerment". – Sapa

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