Tech firm hits govt wall

2015-07-27 09:18
ProSysCom owner Dave Griffin was left with over R500?000 in computer stock when the Department of Correctional Services, who placed the signed order, refused to accept the stock or pay citing they believed the purchase to have been done irregularly a

ProSysCom owner Dave Griffin was left with over R500?000 in computer stock when the Department of Correctional Services, who placed the signed order, refused to accept the stock or pay citing they believed the purchase to have been done irregularly a (Ian Carbutt)

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A PIETERMARITZBURG tech firm was left high and dry with just over R500 000 worth of high-end laptops when their government client refused to accept the stock, citing an internal investigation.

This is despite the company, Boom Street-based ProSysCom, having a signed government order after winning the tender to supply the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) with the HP ProBooks with extra RAM.

But DCS officials contacted were tight-lipped on the investigation, referring all queries to their communications department.

“This type of activity by a government department is enough to destroy a small business and in the technology game being left with stock for too long becomes hugely risky as the technology changes so quickly,” said owner Dave Griffin.

Having managed to eventually off-load the stock elsewhere to recoup costs, Griffin believes what DCS has done to them sets a dangerous precedent. “How do you know whether a government order will be honoured? It leaves all businesses in a tough situation,” said Griffith.

Documents seen by The Witness include a signed government order, e-mail correspondence and signed delivery notes.

According to Griffith, ProSysCom was contacted by DCS on February 17 to provide the computers to their Pieter­maritzburg headquarters.

On March 15 they received an official order to supply the 37 laptops with additional RAM and three-year on-site warranties.

Having been unsuccessful in delivering the PCs on March 23 the computers were then delivered during the Easter weekend (April 13).

But just 10 days later the DCS on April 24 dropped the same computers back at ProSysCom’s office citing an internal investigation.

“We eventually met with the KZN DCS regional commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele over this issue and he promised to get back to us in May. He could not say if we were implicated in the investigation.

“I then asked him how we can do business with them if official orders are not honoured. How do we know which are genuine and which are not? Once again he could not answer the question.

“He said one of his lowest ranked staff had not acted according to laid down procedures and this was why there was an investigation,” said Griffin.

Now in July, nearly four months after being given the green light to procure the laptops, Griffin said they are still in the dark.

“Having obtained an official order our legal advisers believe we have a case to recoup the costs, but taking on the state, which has endless resources unlike us, could prove to be a costly exercise.

“This is a huge setback for a small company and effectively means we have received a fraudulent order from a government department.”

Pietermaritzburg Business Chamber chairperson Melanie Veness said the DCS could have effectively shut down this business with its action.

“For Correctional Services this is no major problem, but for any business, particularly a small one, it is catastrophic. How are they expected to pay their suppliers and if their capital is all tied up in one order how can they assist other customers.

“This incident could have put them out of business despite them being in posession of an offical signed order. Meanwhile they have been found to have done nothing wrong,” said Veness.

DCS KZN spokesperson Thulani Mdluli was unable to reply at the time of going to press.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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