Ministry defends stay at Cape Town hotel

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cape Town - Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, did not stay in lavish suites during his stay at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, his ministry said on Thursday.

"The minister only spent one night in the presidential suite because the hotel was full. The hotel had asked the minister to stay in this suite and therefore the ministry was not billed any extra costs for this one night upgrade," said ministerial spokesperson Zweli Mnisi in a statement.

This comes after concerns were raised that tax payers had to foot a bill of R235 000 for the minister and his protectors to stay at the hotel.

Mnisi explained that Mthethwa had stayed at the hotel between May and July, because renovations were being done on his ministerial house. There had been water leakages which resulted in flood damage.

The minister's protectors stayed at the hotel as is required in terms of protection service procedures, while his deputy, Fikile Mbalula, stayed at the same hotel as he also did not have housing provided for him at the time.

Two staff members from the minister's office also stayed at the hotel for a few nights to help the Mthethwa over the period of the Budget Votes.

When the matter of hotel costs had arisen, the minister instructed a senior official to conduct a full investigation into the matter. Mnisi said this investigation brought to light a number of issues.

While the protectors who stayed at the hotel had been accommodated in the cheapest rooms available, there was an exception of four nights when they were placed by the hotel in more luxury rooms without the knowledge of the ministry.

"With regard to these four nights the official investigating the matter is currently in discussions with the travel agency to address why this took place," said Mnisi.

Certain room charges including, telephone, mini bar and laundry costs have also been queried.

"The official investigating has held discussions with the travel agents to seek clarity and steps are being put in place to rectify these queries.

"These steps, where necessary, may include the recovery of undue costs. In addition, where some of this undue expenditure did occur, this will be recovered from the relevant individuals," he said.

Mthethwa has also instructed two senior staff members to develop a comprehensive policy on travel and accommodation to ensure that unnecessary expenditure on both travel and accommodation does not occur in future.