Home News EFF questions ‘dodgy payments’

EFF questions ‘dodgy payments’

534

The EFF has requested that a special council meeting be convened to allow for a high-ranking Sol Plaatje Municipality official to respond to “serious accusations of corruption, extortion and the misuse of funds” relating to tenders that were awarded for the upgrading of pump stations in Roodepan.

The Legaeng pump station. File picture: Soraya Crowie

THE EFF has requested that a special council meeting be convened to allow for a high-ranking Sol Plaatje Municipality official to respond to “serious accusations of corruption, extortion and the misuse of funds” relating to tenders that were awarded for the upgrading of the Legaeng and Eagle Street pump stations in Roodepan.

An investigation into alleged maladministration at Sol Plaatje Municipality that was compiled by JH Attorneys, dated January 7, highlighted a possible conflict of interests between the municipal official and the director of the company, where competitive bidders were “disadvantaged” due to their ”personal relationship.”

EFF provincial chairperson Shadrack Tlhaole said that he had written to the mayor, municipal manager, Speaker, ANC chief whip and council this week, giving them seven days in which to respond, as there appeared to be attempts to conceal the recommendations of the report.

The investigation found that the municipality had disregarded legal advice to cede the contract from True Build CC to Kapa Koni Investment.

“True Build CC (True Build) received a letter of appointment on July 30, 2021, for their bid of R21.1 million, but was found to have violated the contract as it was between 10 to 12 weeks behind schedule in July 2022.”

The report stated that a R713 000 variation order was approved for True Build in September 2022 for a six-month extension to make up for lost time despite their “sub-par performance”.

“It was observed that the cession agreement, which was signed on November 10, 2022, painted a different image, where the R713 000 payment was made for the items that the municipality had ceded. This is not typical as the municipality receives the materials – not the contractor. These claims already demonstrate the existence of significant corruption,” the investigation indicated.

The contract was ceded to Kapa Koni Investments at a higher contract price (R25 million) than the original tender of R21 million, where it was advised that it would be challenging to get a substitute contractor who would accelerate the work and take on the risks.

The report found that multimillion-rand payments were processed to True Build CC during 2022 and 2023.

“This led to a total payment of R3 1 million of R 21.1 million to True Build CC, leaving a balance of R17.9 million to be assigned to other contractors should the cession agreement be approved.

“Kapa Koni was appointed on November 25, 2022, through a cession agreement under the True Build CC contract for a sum of R25.8 million, which exceeds the R17.9 million outstanding balance.

“Simultaneously, this contract amount exceeded the initial R 21.1 million value when True Build was given the contract. When this bid was announced, Kapa Koni Investment was not even among the bidders that submitted,” the report stated.

It highlighted a double payment of R2.2 million, that was paid to two service providers for the site establishment, where one of the contractors was paid without any work being done.

The Eagle Street pump station in Roodepan. File picture: Soraya Crowie

It was also indicated that a R4.2 million payment was made to a contractor in May 2023 after the local economic development manager acting executive director for infrastructure and services, Phetole Sithole, who refused to sign off the invoice, was suspended.

EFF provincial chairperson Shadrack Tlhaole believed that the official responsible for the “malicious prosecution” and “witch-hunt” against Sithole should be charged for misconduct and dismissed.

He called for disciplinary steps to be taken for the “botched” charges that were brought against Sithole, who is undergoing a disciplinary hearing for the alleged irregular appointment of the tourism manager, Neo Poolo.

“There is a witch-hunt against Sithole to ensure that he is permanently removed from the municipality,” said Tlhaole.

“We have been made aware of a persistent and dogged determination to get rid of Sithole following his refusal to make payments to certain contractors. We are in possession of various documents, reports and even investigation outcomes pointing to tender irregularities, fraud, dishonesty and brazen acts of criminality.”

Tlhaole believed that the legal services procured to handle the disciplinary hearings of Poolo and Sithole were irregular and did not follow proper procurement processes, which amounted to fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

“The law firm that facilitated and secured the forensic investigation services … were not acquired through an open tender procedure to allow other companies to respond accordingly.”

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Thabo Mothibi said they would respond to media enquiries after conducting a site visit to the pump stations on Monday, upon the request of the EFF.

Previous articlePopcru concerned for safety of correctional officers
Next articleKimberley Diamond Oval is buzzing with cricket fever