Teta faces probe after claims

2011-06-04 11:33

The Transport, Education and Training Authority (Teta), which is still reeling from the Fidentia ­scandal, has been hit by another controversy after a former executive levelled allegations of irregular conduct against three senior Teta officials, including chief executive officer Maphefo Matlala.

Secomoco Sibambato has ­alleged in a statement to the Public Protector that Matlala, along with chief operating officer Mogomotsi Kgantsi and acting chief financial officer Thokozani Kubheka, were irregularly awarding ­tenders and, in the process, contravening the organisation’s internal procurement regulations and those set by the Treasury in the Public Finance Management Act.

In March, Sibambato was fired as Teta’s corporate services manager for allegedly, among other things, failing to ensure that five employees were paid their salaries late last year. But she claims the charges that formed the basis for her dismissal were “trumped up” after she voiced concerns about the ­irregularities.

As corporate services manager, Sibambato was in charge of ­human resources, procurement, corporate affairs and marketing.

In the statement she filed with the Office of the Public Protector in Joburg last month, Sibambato alleges that:

» In 2009, Teta awarded a tender for IT services to accounting firm Deloitte through a closed bidding process, whereas an open and competitive bidding process should have been applied. The tender was awarded to Deloitte despite advice from the Treasury and a procurement consultant that bidding should be opened to everyone;

» In August last year, Kubheka, who is a Deloitte consultant ­seconded to Teta, facilitated the procurement of services from the ­accounting firm, raising questions of conflict of interest.


The services procured pertained to the reconciliation of Teta’s utilities ­account and the rendering of ­advice on a building donated by Propnet.

Teta’s procurement policies were not followed as the tender was not advertised and no quotes from other bidders were sought.

Instead, Teta issued a motivation letter that allowed it to deviate from the organisation’s tender rules in order to award the tender to Deloitte; and

» In July last year, a consulting firm known as Nkwame Mahumu ­Consulting was awarded a tender by Matlala to conduct a corporate governance review, but the tender was not advertised.

These allegations are also contained in a letter that Sibambato sent to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande in March this year, in which she appealed to the minister to intervene after she was suspended and later axed.

Teta chairperson June Dube, who oversaw a board meeting this week, said he had ordered an ­internal forensic probe to get to the bottom of the allegations.

“The board notes with concern that allegations of impropriety were only made after the dismissal of the employee in question. Furthermore, these allegations were submitted directly to the minister without following established ­procedures,” said Dube.

He said Teta would not comment further as the matter was now ­sub judice.

Sibambato was fired in March ­after being found guilty of failing to ensure salary payments to five Teta employees. She denied the charges and has taken the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Sandile Gwala, a Deloitte ­director, said the accounting firm investigated the alleged involvement of its employee in the matter, but did not establish ­wrongdoing.

“We take all allegations of this nature very seriously and have ­investigated them in detail. Our ­investigations of the allegations ­relating to Deloitte show that her (Sibambato) allegations are either totally false and devoid of any truth, or fail to substantiate any misconduct, irregularity or unlawful actions,” Gwala said.

In the statement to the Public Protector, Sibambato alleges that Matlala also attempted to intervene in the appointment of a ­procurement officer by expressing interest in taking part in head-hunting a candidate, preferably from the Road Transport Management ­Corporation (RTMC) or the ­Department of Transport.

“She held a meeting with a ­person from RTMC, with Mr ­Mogomotsi Kgantsi and the acting ­procurement officer (Elizabeth Skhosana) without me, as the head of the unit, knowing or being aware,” Sibambato said in the ­statement.

She told City Press that Matlala and Kgantsi turned on her after she started raising concerns about the flouting of the procurement ­regulations at Teta, resulting in her becoming sidelined.

It is not the first time that a Teta chief executive has been caught up in ­controversy. Former Teta boss ­Piet Bothma is facing criminal charges for his alleged role in the Fidentia scandal, in which approximately R200 million in Teta investment funds was misappropriated by the asset manager’s owner and ­founder, J Arthur Brown.

The state alleges that Bothma ­received roughly R4.6 million in corrupt payments from Fidentia, which imploded in 2007 after the scandal was exposed.

Fidentia curators have so far ­recovered about R26.2 million of the Teta funds.

The scandal also saw the Living Hands Trust, a provident fund and a nest egg for 46 000 widows and orphans of deceased mineworkers, losing about R1.33 billion.

 

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