Municipality spends R20m on unregistered bodyguards

2014-12-21 06:00

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A municipal administrator has been left with egg on his face after a security company that cost taxpayers R20?million turned out to be unregistered.

Emalahleni municipality administrator Theo van Vuuren hired about 20 bodyguards from Guardian Concepts International last year, but it is not registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (Psira). Its owner, Verne Clarke, last month pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of operating without registration.

He pleaded guilty in the Witbank Magistrates’ Court on November 24 and did the same in a Psira disciplinary tribunal. He has now given up his contract with the municipality.

Van Vuuren hired the guards to protect himself and senior managers after SA Municipal Workers’ Union members protested against former municipal manager, George Mthimunye, and marched him out of council offices on February 14 last year.

The guards were hired even though the municipality had a contract with another company, Khuphukani, and had its own full-time guards.

Van Vuuren kept the bodyguards even after Mthimunye left the municipality and joined the Mpumalanga legislature.

City Press obtained documents early this year which showed the municipality had paid R20.3?million between February 28 last year and May 21 this year to the company.

Clarke told City Press he had operated without a Psira licence because of a “technicality”. “The registration lapsed and the minute I heard about this, I immediately gave the contract to a black-owned company. I assist them as an adviser.”

Van Vuuren said four months ago that documents related to Guardian’s contract had been lost in the municipality’s offices.

“It has come to our attention this might not have to do with whom the municipality has contracted, but is personal. We are not aware of any breach, and if that is the case, necessary investigations will be done internally...”

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