Who is Sam Vukela? De Lille suspends official over 'corruption' reports

Patricia de Lille has moved to suspend the Director-General of her Public Works department, following the conclusion of multiple reports which expose the official's questionable conduct. Sam Vukela, who certainly has previous form, will now face an internal disciplinary process.

Patricia de Lille suspends Public Works official

Sharing a statement on Wednesday, de Lille explained that the suspension was effective immediately, and has been issued in consultation with President Ramaphosa. The action comes at a time where government corruption is once again under intense scrutiny from the public.

"After seeking legal advice, I have placed the Director-General of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), Advocate Sam Vukela on precautionary suspension –  effective as of today Wednesday 29 July 2020 – pending the finalisation of the disciplinary processes instituted against the DG."
"This action follows from a Minute I received from President Cyril Ramaphosa on 17 March 2020 to inform me of his decision to delegate his powers to the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure to initiate disciplinary processes against the Director-General, Adv Sam Vukela. An internal disciplinary process will now convene."Patricia de Lille

What Sam Vukela is accused of doing

Ironically, it would be his connection to funeral tenders that hammered a final nail into the coffin. It's been established that the conclusions of two key reports left De Lille with no choice but to suspend the official:

  1. A report by Price WaterHouse Coopers (PWC) found irregularities related to the provision of moveable infrastructure for official funerals.

  2. A report by the Public Service Commission discovered irregular appointments within the Senior Management Service of the Department.  

Who is Sam Vukela? A brief history

The public official has a very complicated history with the Public Works office. Vukela was fired as acting DG in 2013 when it was found that he had acted negligently by facilitating a multimillion-rand business deal with a property company, and he failed to go through the correct tender processes.

However, he returned to work in the same position just a few years later – and even received a R2 million payout for his time off. The deal he had tried to broker involved a police leasing contract worth R500 million, but the price had allegedly been inflated to allow others to profit illegally.

Sam Vukela is also responsible for allowing the costs of funerals for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Zola Skweyiya, and ambassador Billy Modise to spiral wildly. It's believed the three ceremonies cost the taxpayer R76 million, with expenses including R7 million for leather furniture. The contracts were manipulated and grossly over-priced, and this ultimately proved to be the politician's downfall.