‘Amigos’: bribe clause was in the contract

2013-06-13 00:00

THE initial contract between Intaka Tech and the provincial Health Department made reference to a bribe being paid.

This was said by the department’s suspended general manager, Kantha Padayachee, at the Durban Labour Court yesterday, on day two of the labour dispute between Padayachee and the department.

Padayachee told the court that there was a clause in the draft contract between the department and Intaka that made reference to a bribe being paid.

The evidence given by Padayachee is linked to a multimillion-rand medical equipment contract entered into with Cape Town-based Intaka Tech, procuring water purification and oxygen-generating plants at hugely over-inflated prices.

Intaka’s owner Gastov Savoi and several others are currently facing criminal charges of racketeering, fraud and money laundering.

The equipment was purchased in late 2009, but negotiations began as early as 2006.

Savoi was arrested along with former health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni and Economic Development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, known as the Amigos, although in late 2012 the state dropped its charges against the latter two.

Nkonyeni had since became the Speaker in the KZN Legislature.

The rewritten clause in the contract demanded of the officials who were signatories to the contract to acknowledge no bribe had been given, which Padayachee believes is an unusual inference and could in fact mean a bribe was paid.

She has further instructed the court to subpoena a senior official from the health ministry who is in possession of a transcribed SMS conversation that outlines Nkonyeni’s knowledge that Intaka had a history of “misleading” the department and charging inflated prices, prior to the signing of the oxygen and water purification contracts.

Padayachee painted a picture of a department which failed to follow due process and would simply skip her department altogether and obtain “cut-and-paste” service level contracts from the Contract Unit because of her stance on the matter.

She said she was lambasted by Health MEC Sibongiseni Dlomo, a respondent in the matter, for “hampering service delivery” because she would not process a contract verbally entered into in April 2009 between the then CFO, Sipho Buthelezi, and Ernst and Young, who were contracted to perform a forensic investigation into several provincial hospitals.

“In July 2009 I sent a memorandum to Dlomo, highlighting the non-compliance of the Ernst and Young agreement and that because it had been entered into outside of normal policy prescripts, it placed the department in further debt,” she said.

In mid-2009, Ernst and Young invoiced the department for nearly R2 million, but due to Padayachee’s refusal to process the contract, they could not be paid.

Padayachee said Ernst and Young “became aware their services had been procured irregularly” and that over and above the non-payment of fees, they could not continue with any further work and would withhold “vital” information and documents seized in their investigations until they were paid.

The hearing continues today.

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