Dodgy Western Cape security contract: still no answers from MEC

The Western Cape government has failed to answer questions about a surprising R3m-a-month contract signed by the Western Cape government to guard the Helen Bowden Nurses' Home, GroundUp reports.

GroundUp reported on the contract in April, after MEC for transport and public works Donald Grant said the province was spending approximately R35m a year (R2.9m per month including VAT) to secure the site.

The building has been illegally occupied by Reclaim the City, a group of people campaigning for affordable housing in Cape Town.

The money goes to a company called Masiqhame Trading 540 CC. Grant's spokesperson Siphesihle Dube previously told GroundUp that the fee covered "36 security guards and six dogs at the site 24-hours per day, as well as batons, two-way communication radios, pepper spray and four toilets".

"Guards and dogs are relieved every 12 hours, but at any time there are supposed to be 36 guards on duty."

However, GroundUp's investigation in April found far fewer dogs and guards, and no toilets.

SEE GroundUp’s in-depth series on the occupation

Accounting discrepancy

When Grant's office failed to answer further questions, GroundUp sent an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to the Western Cape government.

The province responded to that request on August 23.

But the response reveals a R1.5m monthly discrepancy. The documents supplied to GroundUp show that the largest monthly total expenditure to date is R1 493 520, not the nearly R3m Grant suggested.

READ: Room with a view: Occupiers explain why they've moved into dilapidated Waterfront property

The documents show that when the contract was first signed in June 2017, it included six guards and one patrol dog for each twelve-hour shift. This number grew over the course of the contract from 6 to 20 guards and then to 30 guards (including 12 guards who are dog handlers) in September 2017.

The number of dogs also increased from one to six.

Grant's office did not provide any justification for these increases in security or any explanation of the difference between R1.5m actually being spent and the nearly R3m a month figure he has cited.

The documents also do not explain the choice of Masiqhame Trading 540 CC, a security company that turns up no internet results nor contact information.

GroundUp has waited a week for Grant's office to answer our questions, but we have received no response.

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