Dirty deeds alleged for cleaning job

2012-03-23 00:00

THE Richards Bay Magistrate’s Court has begun prosecution proceedings against two men believed to have stolen confidential documentation from a rival firm in the hope of netting a multi-million rand contract from the world’s largest diversified minerals operator.

It is believed January “Jerry” Mogobane (36) and Themba David Myeni (40), both residents of Richards Bay, were involved in digitally stealing critical financial information as well as hard copy invoices from Richards Bay-based industrial cleaning firm TD Industrial Services, in a bid to win a R100-million, three-year contract from JSE-listed BHP Billiton Aluminium South Africa, which operates two of the Hillside and Bayside smelters in the town.

More suspects may be arrested if criminal investigations find evidence that at least other six companies, as well as several individuals, colluded with the arrested suspects on the agreement that if one party won the contract it would be split between all of them.

Mogobane, who is a site manager employed by TD Industrial Services, has since been suspended. Myeni, who left TD Industrial about 12 months ago, has started his own company, Nela Kahle Cleaning Services.

Court papers reveal that they have been charged with stealing a memory stick containing price listings and ad hoc services as well as invoices. They were arrested earlier this month and both men are out on R500 bail.

TD Industrial owner Deon Arumugam, who opened the case after being tipped off by a third party initially involved in the collusion whose relationship with the colluding parties had turned sour, confirmed the theft of his company information.

“I am not certain of how they may have stolen the confidential documentation as of yet. We have suspended Mogobane. I can also confirm that we did employ Myeni but eventually parted ways after there was a breakdown in trust,” said Arumugam.

Representing both Mogobane and Myeni, defence lawyer Vusi Ndlovu from Ndlovu Qwabe and Partners said although his clients have yet to plead they believe they are not guilty.

“We want this issue to make trial as we want them to be exonerated. They want their names cleared but I cannot discuss the merits of the case until we go to trial,” said Ndlovu.

The matter has been postponed until April 11 for final witness statements to be collected.

It will then likely be transferred to the Durban SAPS Commercial Branch for further investigation and prosecution.

BHP Billiton communications manager Kesagee Nayager said they had recently invited tender submissions for cleaning services at the smelters in Richards Bay. “It is alleged that some of the companies participating in the tender process have been involved in anti-competitive behaviour,” said Nayager.

She said the corporation was not at liberty to divulge any information regarding the companies likely to be implicated.

The tender closed on February 14, and the contract is expected to be awarded by May.

The tender process is continuing.

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