Dodgy firm to protect courts

2011-01-08 18:08

The Justice Department has awarded a R400 million tender to protect courts and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to a company linked to a massive fraud and corruption probe.

Bosasa Security is part of the Krugersdorp-based Bosasa group of companies that has benefited generously from a range of multimillion-rand government tenders over the past six years.

Companies in the group are ­currently being investigated by the police for allegedly bribing senior correctional services officials to win lucrative prison tenders.

Bosasa Operations, the group’s holding company, and affiliate companies Sondolo IT and Phezulu Fencing were awarded tenders to run prison kitchens, install security systems and erect fencing.

In 2007 the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) started probing these tenders and in 2009 a final report was handed over to Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who sent the ­report to the NPA.

In December 2009, SIU boss Willie Hofmeyr told Parliament they had found proof of fraud and corruption in the awarding of these tenders.

Some of the SIU’s findings included the department’s former chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham, allegedly receiving a house, cars and Blue Bulls rugby tickets from Bosasa.

The company allegedly also paid for architects to design the house of former prisons boss Linda Mti was living in.

Gillingham resigned last year shortly before he had to face a departmental disciplinary hearing.

The Department of Justice originally advertised the tender to safeguard all the country’s courts and NPA offices early last year.

In October, director-general Nonkululeko Sindane cancelled the tender after being informed of “governance issues and financial constraints”, according to departmental spokesperson Tlali Tlali.

Last month the department awarded the tender to six companies, of which Bosasa Security (R391 million over 24 months) and Fidelity Security Services (R333 million) received the bulk of the work.

Bosasa is the only of the six ­companies that was awarded work in all nine provinces.

In seven ­provinces, Bosasa received the most work.

Fidelity received work in seven provinces.

Tlali defended Bosasa’s slice, saying it would be unfair for the ­department to pass “extrajudicial rulings based on allegations which have yet to be tested in a court of law”.

Tlali said Bosasa Security was a “completely distinct, independent and compliant security company” and was not under investigation.
Bosasa Security is headed by Joe Gumede, who is also a director of Bosasa Operations.

Linda Security (R212 million) was awarded security work at buildings in five provinces; Mabotwane Security Services (R54 million) in two provinces; and Sheppard Protection Services (R47 million) and Jackcliffy Trading (R26 million) work in one ­province each.

City Press received reliable ­information that not all service providers had provided armed guards to courts on January 1, the day the contract commenced.

According to Tlali, all companies “have minimum firearm licences proportionate and consistent with the bid requirements, and had ­indicated and made a commitment that their applications to the ­central firearms register, which are currently under consideration, will be approved once they are awarded the tenders”.

He said the department deployed a team on December 31 to inspect the occupation of sites the next day.

They confirmed new guards had taken over the protection of courts and in some instances companies “absorbed” guards from the ­previous service provider.

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