High-flying couple’s tender trouble

2014-11-03 08:30

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They own R35?million worth of luxury properties in Joburg and Cape Town, and they love fast cars and good wine.

But now Nhlanhla and Denise Dakile’s high-flying lifestyle is under threat: the couple is being sued by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for nearly R13?million, which they were paid as part of a R750?million tender awarded by the department of telecommunications and postal services.

The SIU also wants to have the contract cancelled because of alleged collusion in the awarding of the tender.

In papers filed with the North Gauteng High Court, the Dakiles’ marketing company, Media Corner, is accused of regularly depositing cash into the tender committee chairpersons’ personal assistant’s account.

Media Corner was contracted in 2012 by the then department of communications to publicise South Africa’s planned switch from analogue to digital television.

The department was renamed the department of telecommunications and postal services earlier this year.

In its court papers, the SIU alleges that between May 2012 and February this year, the personal assistant of Sam Vilakazi, the department’s deputy director-general and chair of the tender committee, received a total of 27 cash payments of between R1?000 and R5?000 each in her personal bank account.

An employee of the Dakiles’ baggage wrapping company, Bagport, signed one of the payments and the signatures on bank slips for two other payments match that on a contract between Media Corner and the department, the SIU said in its court papers.

City Press’ sister newspaper, Rapport, has seen the papers in question.

Numerous attempts were made to contact both the Dakiles on their cellphones and SMSes requesting comment were sent to Nhlanhla Dakile several times.

Denise Dakile emailed City Press asking that all queries be sent to their lawyer. This was done, but no response had been received at the time of going to press.

The SIU is still investigating the source of the other payments to Vilakazi’s assistant.

The unit has also accused Vilakazi of working with Lindiwe Nkwe, the department’s director of purchasing, to ensure that Media Corner was awarded the tender.

In detailed statements by the SIU and the department’s director-general, Rosey Sekese, it is alleged that Vilakazi and Nkwe artificially lowered Media Corner’s bid so that the company would win the tender.

Sekese was earlier named as the departmental official who gave the final go-ahead for the tender, but none of the SIU’s court documents implicate her in any wrongdoing.

The SIU claims in its papers that Vilakazi approved at least R45?million in payments to Media Corner for advertising – but could not provide slips.

Media Corner now has to provide evidence of this “work” to the SIU and the department.

The unit is continuing to investigate Media Corner and officials in the department say criminal charges may follow.

On its website, Media Corner writes that most of its work comes from government departments and institutions like the department of communications, Eskom, Telkom and the SA Post Office.

Former business partners, employees and friends say the Dakiles like luxury vehicles.

“The last time I saw, Nhlanhla was driving a Porsche Cayenne,” one former business associate said. These cars cost about R1?million each.

The couple appeared next to two Cape wine makers on the website of this year’s Cape Wine Auction, a prestigious event at which wealthy businesspeople, socialites and celebrities bid on pricy wine for charity.

This isn’t the first time one of the Dakiles’ companies has come under the spotlight.

City Press and Rapport revealed earlier this year their company Bagport – both Nhlanhla and Denise are directors – had clinched a contract with SAA in 2013 to wrap passengers’ luggage. There was no tender process.

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