Top official gets threats for probing Nyanda deal

2011-01-22 16:18

A government official was allegedly warned that he was being watched and was threatened with being “profiled” for having questioned a contract and payments made to Abalozi Security Risk ­Advisory Services.

Goldrich Gardee, a director of financial accounting services in Mpumalanga’s corporative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) department, informed Premier David Mabuza of the threats.

At the time, Abalozi – which used to trade as GNS Risk Advisory Services and is 45%-owned by the family of President Jacob Zuma’s parliamentary officer, Siphiwe Nyanda – had been awarded a questionable contract to probe service delivery protests in the province.

Gardee was seen as a stumbling block to the contract because he questioned the awarding of the tender without adverts having been placed, and said payments made to Abalozi were therefore fruitless, irregular and unauthorised expenditure.

Documents obtained by City Press show that Gardee received an anonymous telephone call warning him to stay away from the matter.

In a letter dated February 4 last year and sent to Mabuza, the former Cogta MEC Norman Mokoena and Cogta head David Mahlobo, Gardee wrote: “I have ­received an anonymous call on my ­cellphone warning me to stay away from this matter, and that I am being watched and profiled.

“I perceive this as a crystal-clear threat to my life.

I suspect the company officials have a copy of the attached letters wherein I have advised against payments to the company.

It does appear that the company has in its employ people with a military and intelligence background, such that the threat could be real.”

Mpumalanga government spokesperson Lebona Mosia and his Cogta counterpart, Simphiwe Kunene, said Gardee should have approached the police.

“Government views intimidation as a criminal offence and anybody who is a victim must report it to the police immediately,” Mosia said.

Mosia denied that Mabuza had received the complaint.

Gardee declined to comment.

Abalozi spokesperson Relibile Mofokeng failed to respond to emailed questions sent about three weeks ago, or to text and voice messages on his cellphone.

Gardee had also complained in writing that Abalozi had been appointed without an available budget for the project, and that it was appointed to do intelligence work, which was the responsibility of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

Cogta declined to say how much in ­total had been paid to Abalozi.

The initial contract that both parties signed indicated that Abalozi was to be paid R2.8 million for work done in three municipalities over two months.

The contract was, however, extended and sources within the department claim Abalozi was eventually paid R20 million.

Similar claims about the tender were echoed by the department’s chief financial officer, Dumisani Shipalana – who ­also chairs the bid adjudication committee – when the committee was approached by Mahlobo to see if Abalozi’s flawed ­appointment could be condoned.

In a memorandum to Mahlobo, Shipalana said: “The accounting officer should note that the above commitment remains irregular and unfunded.”

Gardee raised concerns that the daily rates of Abalozi employees were inflated.

At least three invoices – for R1.875 million each paid out in October and December 2009 and in February last year ­– were based on inflated rates.

Gardee said it was agreed that Abalozi’s operational manager on the project would be paid R800 a day and that each of the 10 field researchers would be paid R500.

The operational manager was, however, paid R1 300 a day and field ­researchers received R750 a day.

It is not clear how much Cogta was charged for other phases of the contract, which also included monthly monitoring, evaluation and an early warning report, as well as a risk management report and recommendations.

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