Hadebe says he was misled

2018-11-15 15:48

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Suspended City boss Sizwe Hadebe has denied having irregularly entered into or amended contracts with Khuselani Security and Risk Management (KSA).

On Wednesday The Witness reported that the SIU recommended that Msunduzi discipline Hadebe, general manager for community services Boniwe Zulu, and former general manager for sustainable development Dr Ray Ngcobo, who is now the municipal manager for uMgungundlovu.

The trio were accused of having cost the City millions of rands in irregular expenditure when they allegedly flouted policies in the extensions of and amendments to contracts between Msunduzi and KSA.

Hadebe said when he joined the municipality in June 2016 the City had a task team that had been negotiating the payment rates with KSA and the parties reached an agreement that the rate would have to be increased.

He said a former senior finance manager, whose name is known to The Witness, indicated that the origin of the task team was as a result of a court order after KSA had launched a court action against the municipality. “The rate was thus changed after [with] my approval. I later learned about six months later that I was misled into believing that the rate negotiations were as a result of a court process.”

Hadebe said he proceeded to charge the manager concerned — who has since resigned — for misleading him and instructed that the rate be changed back to the original one. Hadebe said he then instructed that reconciliation of payments be done to determine if either of the parties owed the other. He said the instruction to change the rate back was not carried out by the finance unit for more than eight months so KSA’s invoices had to be processed through “sundry payment”, which the SIU also found to be irregular.

Last year the SIU recommended that Msunduzi cease all contractual agreements with KSA due to irregularities identified in both the 2009 and 2013 contracts.

Hadebe said copies of the letter were also sent to Mayor Themba Njilo and the speaker Jabu Ngubo, but the municipality could not just terminate the contract without risking litigation as the SIU had failed to give them evidence of the alleged transgressions.

“We sought legal advice which indicated that we can’t act on hearsay, in other words we needed proof.”

Msunduzi eventually terminated its contracts with KSA in February, after the SIU had shown evidence to the City’s external legal team, but that is still subject to a pending court matter.

On the irregular awarding of a month-to-month contract to KSA in April, Hadebe said: “Looking back and with a benefit of hindsight, it seems that one was set up.”

He said the SIU had been aware of what transpired and that it was done after obtaining a legal opinion as the bid adjudication committee (BAC) ?— of which he was not a member — had not finalised the appointment of a new contractor, which had to be on site on May 1.

Njilo reportedly called an emergency meeting on April 30 to discuss the matter but Hadebe said they battled to get hold of the BAC chair, the acting City manager Neli Ngcobo, but she eventually responded in a text message telling them who would be standing in for her.

“We were very worried that any security lapses might result in the destruction of municipal property (KSA guards around 700 sites) and compromise the safety of some political leaders as they are guarded by the same company.”

He said all present in that meeting agreed with the course of action and the approval of the report. “It is now interesting that only myself and Boniwe are being singled out. This once again is fuelling the view that the SIU is biased for and against some in the municipality.”

Hadebe said Njilo and Ngcobo failed to blacklist the company following the SIU’s recommendation, which would have made it easier to terminate KSA’s services. “All payments made to KSA were also approved by the CFO [Ngcobo]. Why has she not been cited, including other role players that approved the payments who includes staff members in the community services and finance, in this SIU report?”

Msunduzi spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo said the City could not comment on the allegations as the issue of KSA was subject to an SIU investigation and there were also court matters pending.

Council divided on SUI's report

Council is divided on the SIU’s recommendations, with some councillors saying that the report appeared to be one-sided while others have called for an immediate suspension of general manager for community services Boniwe Zulu pending the disciplinary process.

The opposition parties said the role of the finance business unit — which is responsible for ensuring that tenders are awarded properly and correct payments are made to service providers — was suspiciously not mentioned in the report.

They, however, supported the SIU’s recommendation that Msunduzi should consider blacklisting KSA with the National Treasury and referring the company to the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority to consider charging the company for misconduct. — WR.

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg  |  sizwe hadebe

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