Lucky gets lucky after R3bn deal

2015-05-31 15:06
Lucky Montana. Picture: File

Lucky Montana. Picture: File

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Railway boss Lucky Montana has been linked through a questionable property sale to a company that bagged a R700 million tender from the government parastatal he heads.

Montana, who heads the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), sold his home in a Johannesburg up-market suburb, Parkwood, for R6.8 million, cash, to a Pretoria attorney, Riaan van der Walt.

The amount paid is almost R3 million more than the average house price in the area and R3.4 million more than the value of the house, which had recently been valued by the City of Johannesburg.

Van der Walt, it turns out, is the lawyer for Siyangena Technologies, a security company that won a huge tender for an integrated station-access-management system (Isams) from Prasa a few months after the property transaction took place.

The Isams security tender was first advertised in October 2013 but was only concluded in 2014 following allegations of tender irregularities by rival bidders.

Bidders who lost out alleged that the tender specifications had been tweaked to benefit Siyangena Technologies.

As a result, several bidders had asked for the bidding fee of R10 000 to be refunded to them and they withdrew from the bid.

The contract included the provision and maintenance of CCTV cameras and equipment for control rooms at Prasa stations throughout South Africa.

Prasa and TMM Holdings, Siyangena Technologies’ parent company, have refused to indicate what the contract is worth, but a Prasa document obtained by City Press’ sister publication, Rapport, shows that Prasa spent R735 million on the Isams contract in the 2014/15 financial year and would spend a further R2.1 billion in the next three financial years.

City Press has seen a letter sent to the aggrieved bidders by Josephat Phungula, Prasa’s chief procurement officer, soon after the tender process kicked off; it dismisses the concerns of the aggrieved bidders.

“Concerns ... raised that the tender document was biased towards a particular company...” were based on “erroneous statements” and the Isams tender process was “transparent, free, fair [and] cost effective”, wrote Phungula.

However, several rail-industry experts with intimate knowledge of the tender maintain that Siyangena Technologies had an unfair advantage because tender specifications required successful bidders to use security products such as cameras and access gates that only Siyangena was licensed to use and distribute in the country.

Siyangena, which forms part of the TMM Holdings group, is owned by wealthy businessman Mario Ferreira, who also owns Cape soccer team Vasco da Gama.

Van der Walt and Ferreira are co-directors of an unrelated shelf company.

Ferreira left the local subsidiary of German company Siemens under a cloud in 2005 after he was involved in the alleged payment of millions in bribes to win government contracts for Siemens in several countries in Africa.

“We are not in a position to comment on this matter,” Siemens spokesperson Jose Machado said when contacted.

Van der Walt, however, insisted that there was nothing untoward in him buying Montana’s house, saying he had noticed the property by chance when he drove past it one day.

Transaction records from the City of Johannesburg for the area show that the average selling price for a house in Parkwood in 2014 was R4 million, while the next most expensive house after Montana’s fetched only R4.7 million.

Records held by the city’s deeds office also show that the municipality valued Montana’s house at only R3.4 million in July 2013, 10 months before he sold it for exactly double that price.

Three estate agents who have been selling houses in the area for years said they were shocked when they heard what the house had been sold for.

When Van der Walt was asked about the apparently inflated price he paid for Montana’s house, he said a private property valuer had assisted him to determine its market value. He refused to name the valuer.

Responding on behalf of Montana, Prasa spokesperson Moffet Mofokeng said Montana had sold the Parkwood property at a “market [related] price” and that this news report intended to “create an impression that there is something wrong with this [when] there simply isn’t”.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Van der Walt is the owner of another property in Brooklyn, Pretoria, where Montana’s mother, Mary, lives.

The property has two houses adjacent to each other.

Mary Montana last week confirmed she had been living in one of those houses since 2013. She claimed the house belonged to her son, Lucky.

But property records show that Precise Trade and Invest 02, Van der Walt’s company, bought the property in April 2013.

The other house on the property in Pretoria is used as a guesthouse by one of Ferreira’s companies.

Ferreira admitted they did use the adjacent property as a guesthouse, but claimed he didn’t know who they were renting it from.

Despite Mary Montana’s admission that she was living in the house, Mofokeng denied that this was the case.

“Mr Montana’s mother stays with him,” he said.

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