Protector welcomes minister's action
Johannesburg - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has welcomed a bid by Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde to have lease contracts for police office space cancelled.
"The action by the minister is in line with the public protector's finding that the lease was invalid and that the department should urgently review the purported lease with a view of cancellation," her office said on Thursday.
Mahlangu-Nkabinde recently filed papers in the North Gauteng High Court in a bid to have the contracts declared null and void.
She said the controversial multimillion-rand deals, signed with businessman Roux Shabangu for police office space in Durban and Pretoria, were entered into before her appointment as minister.
She denied signing off on the contracts, saying she could not be held responsible for what happened before she took office.
"Part of the reason it has taken some time to get to the point of filing court papers is because of obstruction I received from within the department, and because I received contradictory legal advice," she said on Tuesday.
Shabangu not paid one cent
"We have not paid Mr Shabangu one cent, no work was ever started on the Durban offices and nor have we authorised Mr Shabangu's company to complete any work on the Middestad building."
Shabangu welcomed the minister's legal steps, saying it would bring clarity to the matter.
"We [Roux Property Fund] welcome the minister's actions. This matter has been hanging for... too long," Shabangu's spokesperson Lelo Zulu told Sapa in an e-mail.
In a recent report, Madonsela found the public works department deviated from tender processes, that the lease agreements were not at the market rate, and that Shabangu allegedly pressured officials into finalising the deals.
Madonsela's first report, released in February, was on her investigation into the Sanlam-Middestad building in Pretoria, leased for R500m. Her second report examined the R1.1bn agreement to lease Transnet Tower in Durban.
Madonsela called on President Jacob Zuma to take action against Mahlangu-Nkabinde, Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele and senior officials involved in the deals.
Last week, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said Zuma took the report seriously, which was why he had decided not to make a "hasty or haphazard" decision.