Public pools tender scandal

2019-08-08 16:46
Workers revamp and repair the Berg Street swimming pool in May 2015.PHOTO: FILE/IAN CARBUTT

Workers revamp and repair the Berg Street swimming pool in May 2015.PHOTO: FILE/IAN CARBUTT

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The KZN Hawks are investigating a case of fraud against City officials and a Pietermaritzburg company over a R45 million swimming pool tender.

The municipality is alleging that its employees colluded with the service provider, whose name is known to The Witness, to submit fraudulent documents for work that the company claimed it had done but did not.

This occurred from 2012 to 2018 and resulted in Msunduzi allegedly losing R35 million.

The complaint was laid by Msunduzi’s head of internal audit Petrus Mahlaba at the PMB central police station this week and the docket has been handed over to the Hawks.

The company was awarded the multi-million rand tender for maintaining and repairing the City’s swimming pools, including those located in Northdale, Woodlands and Eastwood.

The scope of work included purchasing the supplies needed and the labour.

Apparently Msunduzi started probing the tender when invoices submitted by the service provider raised the suspicions of its expenditure committee. More than a dozen invoices were submitted for work supposedly done and the purchase of the supplies.

It is alleged that the company submitted invoices for equipment and parts that were not related to maintaining and repairing swimming pools.

The internal investigation included going to the suppliers where these were alleged to have been bought and they supposedly denied ever selling those to the City’s contractor.

The Witness has previously reported on the bad state of the City’s swimming pools as the Concerned Swimming Fraternity repeatedly pleaded with the municipality to ensure proper maintenance and repairs.

Their concerns ranged from issues of vandalism to broken pumps or filters and lack of general maintenance. Over the years council allocated funds for work to be done to ensure that all its pools were kept in a decent state but sources close to the investigation alleged that most of it went down the drain as some of the work was not being done at all even though the contractor claimed it was.

One of the pools that is alleged to have been compromised by the alleged fraud is the pool on Berg Street which was reportedly refurbished at a contract value of R2,2 million in 2015.

“The municipality also went to the site where the pipes were supposed to have been laid out and I don’t have to tell you what happened,” said a source close to the investigation.

The company’s director is also said to have appeared before the municipal investigative team to respond to the allegations, but Msunduzi was not satisfied with the responses he gave.

“The officials are implicated in the matter because they were supposed to monitor the work and make sure that it was done according to the specifications of the tender before signing the invoices for the municipality to make payments. So either they knew that the work was not being done or they did not do their jobs.”

Attempts to get comment from Mahlaba were unsuccessful.

KZN Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo said members from the Serious Corruption Unit are investigating the matter and no arrest has been made at this stage.


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