Tender for the construction of Talana shacks was fraudulently obtained

LIMPOPO

 

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has found that the R1, 5 million tender for construction of 192 transitional residential areas in Limpopo was fraudulently obtained.

 

According to the SIU the tender was awarded by the Limpopo Provincial Government and the appointed service provider, Aventine Group CC, made misrepresentations and forged documents of industry experts with no links to the company to influence the direction of the bid.

 

Kaizer Kganyago, SIU spokesperson, said in July 2020, Limpopo premier Stanley Mathabatha referred allegations to the SIU with regard to the construction of shacks for hostel dwellers during the national state of disaster by the Limpopo Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements & Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA).

 

“The SIU was, in terms of Proclamation R23 of 2020, directed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate allegations of corruption, malpractice, maladministration and irregularities in the procurement of goods and services during the Covid-19 state of disaster,” said Kganyago.

 

“Limpopo COGHSTA identified a number of densely populated informal settlements in Limpopo Province which made it difficult to observe social distancing as per Covid-19 regulations,” he said.

 

The investigation revealed that COGHSTA appointed an implementing agent, the Housing Development Agency (HDA) for the establishment of transitional residential areas.

 

Priority was given to two settlements, Talana Hostel in Tzaneen and Burgersfort Ext. 10, which required urgent attention in the form of a partial relocation.

 

Kganyago also said the HDA then appointed a service provider, Aventino, to construct 192 units to sum of R12.3 million. An extension of scope was approved to include the construction of 152 pit toilets and installation of three water tanks (10 000 liters), for additional fee of R3 million, taking the contract value to R15.3 million.

 

He said the service provider only managed to construct 40 shacks at Talana Hostel and submitted two invoices totaling over R2.5 million, which were paid between April and October 2020.

 

He added that in Burgersfort Ext.10 site, no structure was completed as there were only half build ones.

 

“In line with SIU Act 74 of 1996, the SIU has referred evidence pointing to criminal action against the director of the Aventine Ms Constance Mohlala to the National Prosecuting Authority for further action,” Kganyago explained.

He added “As a result, Ms Mohlala was arrested by the Hawks in December 2020 and she is facing criminal charges for submitting fraudulent documents to influence the direction of a tender,”

 

Furthermore, the SIU made a referral to HDA recommending that the service provider be restricted from doing business with government. The matter has been escalated by HDA to the National Treasury for consideration.

 

Kganyago said the SUI will approach the special tribunal review and set aside the contract, and review financial losses suffered by the state.

 

Meanwhile the office of the premier has welcomed the investigation and fully supports the decision by the SIU resulting in the arrest of those who were involved in wrongdoing and referring their conduct to the National Prosecuting Authority for further action.

“We are scheduled to meet with the SIU to fully understand their report as further civil proceedings shall follow, especially the setting aside of the contract. What has happened is an injustice to the people who were supposed to receive the service”, said Mathabatha.

 

Thapelo Motseo

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