Hawks probe Madibeng for gross tender fraud

The troubled Madibeng Local Municipality in Brits in North West is facing a massive tender fraud probe by the Hawks for allegedly paying suppliers for work not done.

City Press has obtained documents revealing that at least 25 tenders were under investigation, involving funds from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant that were fraudulently paid to suppliers.

The documents were obtained during a search-and-seizure operation, carried out by the Hawks at the municipal buildings in March.

The troubled municipality awarded two contracts to Tlou Integrated Tech cc, which did not have any Construction Industry Development Board grading.

The grading certificate is issued to a construction company based on the service provider’s capacity, financial muscle and history. These three factors determine the value of a contract that a service provider can be given. The board is an agency of the public works department.

The tenders in question were also not advertised, said the Hawks.

Projects under scrutiny include the building of sanitary infrastructure around Klipgat, which was given to the same company.

According to the Hawks document, Tlou Integrated Tech cc submitted invoices totalling R200 869.57 for work that was never done.

Another company, BA Poloborwo Construction, received R2 778 409 – for which there was no proof of work done.

Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed the investigation into the municipality, adding that several documents obtained during the search-and-seizure were being analysed to establish any further wrongdoing.

“Our investigation is at an advanced stage. Once the process has been completed, we will submit the docket to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision,” he said.

Madibeng, which is in the popular tourist hot spot of Hartbeespoort, made headlines when two people died during service-delivery protests over a lack of water supply in the area in December.

And early this year, the municipality faced the threat of being cut off from the power grid, after amassing a R22 million Eskom debt.

Meanwhile, complaints from service providers about nonpayment are mounting, with several suppliers threatening legal action to compel the municipality to pay up for services rendered.

Last week, the internet service provider shut down the municipal website and email system in a bid to force the municipality to settle its account.

Residents logging on to the website were greeted with a message that read: “Account suspended due to nonpayment. For reactivation, please send proof of payment to info@bwd.co.za.”

Municipal spokesperson Tumelo Tshabalala said the municipality, which is in North West’s Bojanala Platinum District Municipality, was not in a position to respond to any allegations pertaining to documents in the Hawks’ possession.

“We will only be able to do so once we receive feedback from the Hawks,” he said.

With regard to the website being offline, Tshabalala said they regretted the situation, precipitated by the “disagreement” the municipality had had with the service provider.

The website was back online, but only a day after City Press had sent enquiries.

Tlou Integrated Tech cc founder Levy Kekana referred the allegations of tender fraud back to the municipality.

However, he protested against the allegation that their invoices to the municipality were for work not done, saying this was “incorrect”. He refused to elaborate.

City Press spoke to junior officials of BA Poloborwo Construction, but they said they were not authorised to comment. Several calls and SMSes sent to senior officials went unanswered.

Should officials be fired if implicated in irregular tender contracts? Should the state sue to recover funds?

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