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Probe into sale of water pipes

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The removal of the old pipes was included in the contract

OLD PIPES: Sol Plaatje Municipality is involved in an ongoing investigation into the illegal sale of redundant water pipes.

SOL PLAATJE Municipality is involved in an ongoing investigation into the illegal sale of redundant water pipes that were replaced as part of the multimillion-rand water refurbishment project, where municipal officials may also be implicated.

According to the municipality, an extensive network of pipes, valued at up to R1 million, had to be replaced in many areas in the city, including Hoffe Park, Riverton, Supermix, Bultfontein Road, the site of the residences and campus of Sol Plaatje University and the new Kimberley mental health hospital, as part of the project.

While the old pipes are rusted and do not appear to have much value, invoices show that the old pipeline that was replaced in Birbeck Street, alone, was sold to a local scrapyard for over R105 000 in June.

According to one of the contractors, the removal of the old pipes was included in the contract.

“The pipes were obstructing construction. I was given permission to dispose of the pipes in any way I saw fit – to either take it home, to donate it to a church or to sell or load it off at the dump site.”

The project manager at Sol Plaatje University, Bradley Marais, added that the work had been completed where the water flow had to be re-routed from three 350 millimetre pipes that were leaking.

“We worked closely with waterworks and were not aware of any outstanding issues or criminal charges regarding the removal of the pipes from the site.”

Spokesperson for Sol Plaatje Municipality, Sello Matsie, said the circumstances surrounding the entire disposal of the specific pipes and all areas that were attended to during the water shutdown was currently the subject of a criminal investigation.

“The investigation will extend to the removal of redundant water pipes from all the sites where work was conducted,” said Matsie.

“There is a policy on the disposal of all assets as approved by council. Indeed, any official who violates such a policy will be made to account and disciplinary action will follow in cases of transgression.”

Police spokesperson, Captain Olebogeng Tawana, said that the Kimberley police were investigating a case of housebreaking and theft regarding this matter.

“No one has been arrested at this stage. The investigation is ongoing,” said Tawana.