Corruption case opened against GCIS' Phumla Williams

Phumla Williams during her testimony before the state capture commission. (Oupa Nkosi/M&G)

Phumla Williams during her testimony before the state capture commission. (Oupa Nkosi/M&G)

The former head of government communications, Donald Liphoko, has opened a corruption case against the agency’s acting chief executive, Phumla Williams, who says she has not yet been formally notified or charged.

“I can confirm that is correct. I reported the matter to the anti-corruption unit at the Hawks,” Liphoko told media on Monday. 

“I have been working with the anti-corruption unit for some time on this matter.” He said that he finalised his statement with the Hawks on October 22.

In his statement, Liphoko said on or about November 27, 2012, he became aware of an investigation conducted by the office of the accountant general into a suspected media buying transaction entered into by the government communication and information system (GCIS) and two service providers.

The two companies, Lightviews and Likhwane, procured tenders for outdoor advertising, on behalf of Statistics South Africa for the Census 2011 public awareness campaign.
Liphoko alleges that the services were not rendered, and that Williams was obliged to ensure that the money was recouped. However, he says she did not do this.

“I am of the opinion that Ms Williams has participated in a corrupt act in that she authorised an irregular transaction and the advance payment of R7 762 000 to Lightviews and Likhwane on or about 7 January 2011, further that she was dishonest in that she sought to conceal an inducement to Lightviews in return for them abandoning the claim against GCIS for R19 275 120,” Liphoko stated.

R7.7-million refund

Liphoko further stated that Williams had a legal duty to recover and prevent further abuse of state resources by Lightviews and Likhwane.

“Instead, she hindered or prevented the recovery of state funds and abetted an act of fraud against the state.

“In redirecting funds from the departmental vote of the GCIS, Ms Williams had not only diverted voted funds for purposes unrelated to those for which they were intended but has also inexplicably shown consistent favour to Lightviews and Likhwane.”

Liphoko claimed that when he returned to GCIS in March 2018, he discovered that instead of pursuing the recovery of the funds from the companies, the agency, under the instruction of Williams, had allegedly reached a different agreement to refund StatsSA an amount of R7 762 000.

StatsSA reportedly gave GCIS R24.7-million between October 2010 and March 2011.

Asked for comment, Williams told media: “I have not been formally charged, and I have not been formally notified.”

State capture inquiry

Liphoko was mentioned at the judicial inquiry into state capture by Williams who testified about how she was treated during Faith Muthambi’s tenure as minister of communications.

Williams told the Zondo commission that Muthambi demoted her from the position of acting director general and replaced her with a junior official, Liphoko.

READ MORE: ‘Muthambi wanted me out’ — Phumla Williams

She said she was later stripped of 70% of her functions as deputy director general, including her responsibilities over supply chain management and the chief financial officer.

She said Muthambi was not interested in serving South Africans and “wanted to steal” at all costs.

The commission, which is investigating allegations of undue influence by the Gupta family on former president Jacob Zuma’s administration, heard how Muthambi “tortured” Williams during her tenure as the department’s acting director general.

Williams’ relationship with Muthambi became strained shortly after Muthambi was appointed to lead the communications ministry in 2014.

“She wanted to steal at all [costs],” Williams claimed of Muthambi, who she had also compared to apartheid era torturers. — News24

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