Corruption buster Pikoli takes on Port Elizabeth

2013-01-20 10:00

Former National Prosecuting Authority head Vusi Pikoli has been tasked with investigating alleged corruption in the awarding of multimillion-rand Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) contracts in Port Elizabeth.

The contracts were awarded last year by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. The IPTS is similar to Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya and Cape Town’s One City projects.

The Nelson Mandela Bay contracts, valued at R200?million, the largest of all contracts the metro has awarded, were put out to tender, which was not the correct procedure.

Pikoli says he has so far interviewed more than 10 people in an investigation that started three months ago.

Pikoli told City Press he was in Port Elizabeth conducting the investigation, which he believed would be completed by next month. He declined to give more details as he has to first present his findings to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

“I cannot say much now because I have to present my findings to the municipality first,” he said.

ANC regional chairman Nceba Faku last year questioned the awarding of the contracts and asked for the entire process to be halted. However, Mayor Zanoxolo Wayile and then municipal manager Themba Hani defended their decision, saying putting them out to tender would have delayed implementation of the project and the city risked losing R180?million in funding from national government.

Some senior officials and councillors, including a former head of the IPTS who has since been fired for “asking too much”, queried the awarding of the tender. But the council’s budget and treasury committee chairman, Balu Naran, called for an investigation.

The IPTS will be run jointly by the municipality and Laphu’milanga Transport Services, a cooperative of taxi associations. Sources say part of the investigation involves the misuse of funds – using R4.6?million intended for the transport project to pay a Cape Town-based music promoter, espAFRIKA.

In 2012 Pikoli resigned from forensic investigators SizweNtsalubaGobodo, where he was a shareholder, director and partner, after what he alleged were ANC threats to cut off government contracts with the audit firm if it did not get rid of Pikoli.

The ANC denied this allegation.

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