Another extension for dodgy prisons catering company

2013-01-20 10:00

As the Hawks wrap up their investigation into corruption-implicated Bosasa Operations, the department of correctional services is about to extend the company’s controversial catering contract yet again.

Prisons boss Tom Moyane told City Press that the facilities management company’s contract to provide food at the nation’s major prisons would be drawn out for another “five to six months”.

This is while the department adjudicates a new catering tender, and despite former correctional services minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula telling Parliament in 2011 that her department would cancel the outsourcing of catering services.

This will be the fourth time Bosasa’s contract has been extended.

Before 2004, when Bosasa was awarded the catering tender for the first time, correctional services staff prepared and served food at prisons.

In 2009, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found that Bosasa had paid bribes to senior prisons officials, including former prisons boss Linda Mti and the department’s chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham.

The SIU’s report formed the basis of a criminal investigation by the Hawks, which is close to being finalised.

Despite the company being mired in controversy, Moyane defended his extension of their contract, saying his department can’t afford a “disruption” of catering services at prisons.

He confirmed that the Hawks have been “in and out of our offices”, but that they haven’t consulted with him.

“I have an accountable management. The fact of the matter is that the Hawks and the SIU are involved and I will allow them space to do what they have to do.

“The investigation started before me (Moyane was appointed in May 2010). The process is there, I can’t deny it.”

Asked why two years after Mapisa-Nqakula announced the department would insource catering it wasn’t ready to take back the kitchens, Moyane said there were a number of “pitfalls” in the process.

“This tender involves eight management areas. I have kept Parliament informed of the process. I can’t afford to mislead Parliament.

“The move to insourcing has to be informed by a scientific process.”

He said the department would be conducting feasibility studies over the next two years to determine whether they are ready to take back the services.

“It involves nutrition services and meal plans. People have to be moved. Facilities must be fixed. Public works is responsible for the refurbishment of kitchens; it wasn’t done. It will take a long time,” he said.

Asked if he would reverse the decision to insource catering, Moyane didn’t rule out the possibility, but said the “study will tell me what is the viability thereof”.

He said it was “unfortunate” there was a public perception his department tolerates corruption.

Moyane said he was committed to clean governance and would build escape clauses into new contracts to be able to terminate them.

» The headline of this article was updated after first published.

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