FILE PIC: BHC houses

An audit inspection carried on accounting records kept by the Department of Housing on pool houses allocated to government by Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC), has exposed extreme mismanagement of the houses located in Gaborone.

In her report released this week, the Auditor General (AG), Pulane Letebele expressed concern at the fraudulent use of the houses whose records are maintained by the Department of Housing, which falls under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development.

The inspection audit has uncovered two instances of fraudulent use of the pool houses.

In one instance, a former Ministry of Lands officer is reported to have allocated himself 14 pool houses and subletting them, collecting close to a million Pula in rentals for his personal benefit between 2014 and 2018.

The case is said to have been reported to the police and is also being pursued with the assistance of the Attorney General in a bid to recoup the fraudulently obtained money.

In another case which has exposed mismanagement and poor record keeping at the Department of Housing, an officer under the department is alleged to have allocated institutional pool houses to members of the public without following the official procedure, for personal gain.

While the said officer was dismissed from the public service, the matter has been referred to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) for fraud investigations.

Letebele has also noted in her report that a further examination of the property records revealed more shocking discoveries.

Officers who were no longer in service due to retirement or any other cause, and not eligible for occupying pool houses, we found to have continued occupying these houses for long periods after their termination.

The earliest case discovered dated back to 2008 on rent-free occupation.

In other almost similar cases, the AG noted that officers who have been transferred from Gaborone to other duty stations had continued to occupy the pool houses which they had been allocated in the capital city.

Some transfers are reported to date as far back as the year 2000.

While the AG acknowledges that some officers continued to pay rentals during the period, they nonetheless should have released the houses for allocation to other public service officers.

These instances, Letebele says are indicative of the need to streamline the management of these houses in order to achieve the purpose of the pool housing policy.

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