Juju’s friend faces probe

2012-09-29 00:00

A LUCRATIVE government property lease awarded to a company owned by Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale and Parliament’s finance portfolio committee chairperson Thaba Mufamadi will form part of a wide-ranging probe by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into the Department of Water Affairs’ finances.

A proclamation gazetted last week specifically orders that the lease of the Manaka Continental building by the Department of Water Affairs be investigated. The building is owned by Manaka Property Investments, in which both Mufamadi and Mathale are shareholders.

City Press reported earlier this year that the Water Affairs lease is worth almost R40 million over its five-year duration.

The SIU was mandated to investigate Water Affairs contracts with six private companies, the department’s role in two bulk water schemes and “conflicting interests of the department’s personnel or agents in entities contracting with the department”.

Manaka Continental, on the corner of Bosman and Visagie streets in Pretoria, is one of five properties in the Pretoria CBD owned by Manaka.

In the current financial year, the Water Affairs lease will cost the taxpayer R5,5 million, or R460 564 per month. The rental escalates by eight percent every year, and by the time of its expiry in 2014, the rental would have increased to R6,5 million, or R547 100 per month.

In April, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi admitted that the lease had been awarded to Manaka without a tender process as he announced a probe of 4 000 leases entered into by his department.

Manaka also holds leases with the Department of Home Affairs, worth R283,5 million over eight years; Statistics South Africa, worth R201 million over eight years; the Gauteng Department of Health, worth R42 million over six years; and a five-year contract with the Polokwane branch of the Department of Water Affairs, worth R6,7 million per year and escalating by nine percent per year for five years.

Manaka also owns a 20% stake in a property development in Centurion that houses the IEC’s head office.

Joe Mathebula, Manaka’s CEO, said: “The Public Works Department has responded comprehensively on this matter. We therefore have no further comment than minister’s response in Parliament.”

The Department of Water Affairs did not respond to a request for comment. The Department of Public Works could not provide comment at the time of going to press.

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