Housing council head in trouble

2012-02-18 18:11

The suspended chief executive of the National Home Builders Registration Council allegedly brought the council into disrepute because he slammed Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale in a previous ­interview with City Press.

Sipho Mashinini faces nine charges for a slew of alleged irregularities and missteps. His disciplinary hearing is being held behind closed doors in ­Johannesburg.

Mashinini faces nine charges:

» Allegedly appointing Letsunyane Associates on a R4.6 million contract which did not go out to tender, in contravention of procurement policies;

» Allegedly appointing Goba ­Investments on a R30 million tender to inspect the construction of low-cost houses in KwaZulu-Natal, which was concluded without ­going out to tender. Goba was paid R5.8 million despite not completing the inspections;

» Allegedly signing a contract with Urban Dynamics for the ­inspection of 10 400 low-cost houses in KZN before a service ­level agreement was signed;

» Allegedly appointing and paying R1.2 million to MM Communications – a figure which was in ­excess of the approved amount;

» Allegedly outsourcing the council’s internal audit function to the Rebahale Consulting and Kwinana joint venture for ­R26 million over three years;

» Appointing former Special Investigating Unit (SIU) sleuth ­Vanessa Somiah – who was investigating him at the time;

» Allegedly failing to abide by ­recruitment policy in appointing Somiah;

» Insubordination, for ignoring an order by council chairperson Rev Vukile Mehana – who is also the ANC’s chaplain general – to place Somiah on special leave

» Bringing the council into disrepute. Mashinini told City Press in a July 2011 interview that Sexwale demolished low-cost houses built by his predecessor Lindiwe Sisulu because “Tokyo wants to send a message that people are doing bad things and he is the good one”.

The council was created to protect home buyers from unscrupulous builders.

A copy of Mashinini’s full response to audit firm Sizwe ­Ntsaluba, which probed him and whose report formed the basis of the charges against him, has been leaked to City Press.

In the 52-page report, Mashinini denies all allegations and argued that the deviations from procurement policies were approved by the tender committee or the ­council.

He also denies that he is the council’s accounting officer .

Explaining his comments on Sexwale in the report, Mashinini says he had a right to defend his dignity after the minister “called a press conference imputing corrupt conduct on my part and maligned me”.

The battle between Sexwale and Mashinini started when Somiah, then an SIU investigator tasked with probing allegations of conflict of interest against the chief executive, was offered a R1.3 million-a- year job by Mashinini.

According to the charge sheet, Somiah apparently “misrepresented” her salary during her job interview, and when Mashinini was alerted to this he failed to investigate and offered the job to her without the approval of the council.

Both Mashinini and Somiah were suspended in July.

Somiah’s investigative report was deemed a “whitewash” by a furious Sexwale and then-SIU head Willie Hofmeyr who felt she had undermined the unit’s probe of the council.

Contacted for comment, Mashinini told City Press not to call him and hung up.

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