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Public Protector to investigate minstrel funding

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The Office of the Public Protector (OPP) is to act on a complaint from the City of Cape Town in relation to minstrel funding, after allegations of mismanagement of funds. The complaint relates to funding dispersed to the Cape Minstrel Carnival Association by the National Lotteries Distribution Trust, which the City alleges has not been used to the benefit of the respective minstrel groups.

Both the City and the Province made substantial contributions to the association for the running of last year’s end of year carnival events, under the belief that carnival committee were not receiving any additional funding or sponsorships. But according to a representative of the City, it later emerged that an estimated R40,64 million was paid out by the Lotto fund to the committee in a period between 2012 and 2014. The City has now sought to investigate where and how that funding has been used.

Mayco member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith said that no evidence exists of such expenditure being used on last year’s carnival proceedings.

“The bills of the carnival are exclusively paid by the City and the Province…The R6 million between us that we contribute covers the cost of the carnival, so it is extremely important to understand where the money went to, because the minstrels didn’t get it,” he told VOC Breakfast Beat.

According to Smith, minstrel groups were forced to reach into their own pockets to cover uniform, instrument and transport costs amongst others. Included in the lotto funds contribution, Smith stated, is a reported R13 million for the construction of a ‘Carnival Heritage Museum’. But Smith said there was a substantial amount of curiosity as to where that money has gone, in light of the fact that little is known of any such development.

“This money could have done a great deal of good for the members of the minstrel’s carnival, with legacy benefits throughout the year, and could have also helped other NGOs across the Cape Flats,” he noted.

He further stressed that as the ‘missing’ funds could be viewed as public money, those found guilty of ‘stealing’ it need be held accountable for their actions.

“Aside from the Public Protector, there is also a criminal investigation underway. Hopefully between the Public Protector’s and the criminal investigation, the truth will come out. They can’t hide the truth forever,” he suggested.

The minstrel association is due to present its finances to the City and Province next week, in relation to its expenditure of the funds distributed by the two. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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