Tainted company scores tender for prisons

2012-02-09 20:30
Johannesburg - The prisons department has extended a multimillion-rand catering tender to a company implicated in massive tender fraud and corruption.

Correctional services spokesperson Phumlani Ximiya confirmed this afternoon that Bosasa Operations' expired catering tender for seven prison management areas was extended for a period of 12 months.

The extension is worth about R300m.

Ximiya said a feasibility study to determine if prison staff could take over the kitchens would be done after the 12 months.

City Press revealed two weeks ago that prisons boss Tom Moyane was considering extending Bosasa's contract for 18 months, against the legal advice of four advocates, including three senior counsel.

The legal opinion concluded that the tender had to be advertised again and could only be legally extended for the “minimum period that it would take to advertise, consider, adjudicate and award the tender”.

Bosasa was awarded the catering tender for the first time in 2004 after a decision by correctional services to privatise prison kitchens.

The company, headed by politically-connected businessman Gavin Watson, subsequently scored more multimillion-rand tenders from the prisons department.

In 2007 the special investigating unit (SIU) started probing tenders worth over R1bn that was awarded by the department to Bosasa and its subsidiaries, including Sondolo IT and Phezulu Fencing.

In 2009 the SIU’s final report, which found that there was a corrupt relationship between Bosasa and the department, was handed to Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

She handed it to the National Prosecuting Authority who referred it to the Hawks for further investigation.The unit is still investigating the case.

In 2009 Mapisa-Nqakula told the Mail & Guardian she knew Watson through her previous links with Dyambu Holdings - a company linked to the ANC Women’s League.

"Mr Watson is a former CEO of Dyambu Holdings, a company the minister was formerly affiliated to  Mr Watson resigned from Dyambu and went on to form Bosasa.

"The minister has had no contact with him since then."

City Press revealed last year that the SIU found Bosasa had bribed former prisons boss Linda Mti and the department's former chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham with gifts, including houses.

The DA's James Selfe said he would call on Moyane to explain the extension of Bosasa's contract to Parliament.

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