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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Defence ministry pays nearly R9k a month for empty residence vacant since 2021

Military personnel have been guarding the unoccupied property since 2021.

The Department of Defence is spending about R9,000 on electricity, water, and waste removal on a property that has been unoccupied for 28 months since December 2021.

This was revealed by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise in a parliamentary response to Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald.

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According to Modise, the official residence of the SA National Defence Force chief in Waterkloof has not been occupied since General Solly Shoke vacated it on 30 November 2021.

The property is apparently due for maintenance and repairs.

“Due to high costs of maintenance and repairs, the scope has been phased with the commencement of the new financial year (FY20224/2025),” said Modise.

A quarter of a million to sit empty?

Taxpayers paid R8,561 for electricity, water and sanitation and R407 for waste removal at the property in February.

If this figure was constant during the 28 months the house has stood empty, it would amount to over R250,000 in bills since December 2021.

The rates and taxes are in credit, said Modise.

The property is guarded by military personnel.

Buying equipment you can’t use

Last month, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke, in a briefing to the standing committee of the auditor-general on material irregularities in national and provincial government, revealed the department had purchased medical equipment it could not use.

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The irregularity was flagged in April 2023 after medical equipment was purchased when the department did not have qualified medical staff to operate it.

The defence department was given until end of March 2024 to implement the auditor-general’s recommendations.

“We always emphasise that we need not get to that point, because by the time we get to a recommendation, there has been ample opportunity for the accounting officers and the executives and Parliament to be acquainted with the matter and to take the necessary steps in line with their own given powers or authority,” Maluleke told the committee at the time.

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The auditor-general had previously referred two material irregularities in the department for further investigation.