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AG probes security tender

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The investigation will look into allegations relating to the contravention of the Public Audit Act as well as non-compliance

Cope MPL Pakes Dikgetsi.

THE AUDITOR-general is investigating the security tender that was awarded by the Northern Cape Department of Health to Defensor Security, where the contract has since risen to R348 million.

The auditor-general in May this year confirmed that it would investigate the awarding of the security tender by the Department of Health following a request from Cope MPL Pakes Dikgetsi in November 2017.

The investigation will look into allegations relating to the contravention of the Public Audit Act as well as non-compliance during the 2017/18 financial year .

The agreement with Defensor was initially signed in November 2017 for R224 million over a period of five years. The contract then rose to R234 million in January this year.

As of February this year, the department had made multiple payments amounting to almost R32 million, dating back to November 2017.

The payments for each month ranged from R4.8 million in November, R9 million in December, R8.2 million in January and R9.8 million in February.

The contract now stands at R348 million over the next three years.

Karibuni Security Services, which had previously provided security services to health facilities in the Province, instituted legal action for non-payment amounting to R47 million, dating back to 2011, as well as a claim for R24 million in May for outstanding invoices.

In response to questions posed by Dikgetsi in the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, the former MEC for Health, Lebogang Motlhaping, stated that all supply chain management processes were followed before the tender was awarded to Defensor Security.

In response to whether the department had enough funds to sustain the contract, Motlhaping indicated that the issue of a lack of funding was a “lame and dismissible excuse”.

“Regarding the financial situation, the judge remarked that services rendered by the previous service provider were still in operation at the time.”

Motlhaping also indicated that the tender was advertised and that the company complied with all the bid specifications and requirements.

In an annexure it was stated that the tender was advertised in the City Press newspaper in 2014, where a pre-evaluation committee had inspected the bid documentation.

“Defensor Security Services was the only bidder that was compliant.”

Motlhaping said the Supreme Court of Appeal had ordered the department to comply with supply chain management processes that were accordingly implemented.

“The tender was awarded to the successful bidder.”

He denied that any advance payments were made to Defensor Security and added that should any competitor wish to challenge the appointment through court action, it would be dealt with “on the basis of their merits”.

Defensor had approached the court after it claimed that the Department of Health had given the impression that it would be awarded a tender that was advertised in 2014 for the provision of security guard services.

Its bid in 2014 was to provide 568 guards in the five districts in the Province at a cost of R224 million over a period of three years.

According to the court records, 37 other competitive bidders also submitted tenders for this service.

Defensor lodged a complaint with the Office of the Public Protector, as well as a notice of appeal to the HOD for the Department of Health.

The department advised the company in 2015 that the tender had lapsed and was no longer valid.

After the department had taken the matter on review, the court ordered that the decision to cancel the tender in 2014 was unlawful and constitutionally invalid.

The court ordered that Defensor’s bid be considered in accordance with evaluation and adjudication processes.

In June last year, the Northern Cape High Court dismissed an application by the Department of Health for leave to appeal to a full court or alternatively the Supreme Court of Appeal.

In her judgment, Judge Mpho Mamosebo pointed out that the failure of the department to provide reasons why the tender validity period was allowed to lapse, pointed to a lack of transparency.

The Department of Health failed to comment while the auditor-general’s office indicated that it would respond to media enquiries in due course.