Zuma appointed construction company ahead of tender process - Nkandla hearings

 Jayshree Pardesi listens during the Nkandla Hearing in Durban. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)
Jayshree Pardesi listens during the Nkandla Hearing in Durban. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)

Durban - President Jacob Zuma appointed construction company Moneymine Enterprises long before the Department of Public Works was involved in the Nkandla tender process, the Nkandla disciplinary hearing heard on Thursday.

Special Investigations Unit chief forensic investigator Christian Legwabe told the hearing that "the owner of the property had appointed Moneymine and the company had already been on site long before the tender was approved".

He said by March 17, 2009, it had already been decided that Moneymine was the preferred construction company to do the upgrades via the negotiation strategy.

"June 15, 2010, is important in this case because that's when they approved the tender to Moneymine," said Legwabe.

He was testifying in the disciplinary hearing of key accounts management employee Jayshree Pardesi, who faces charges of misconduct for approving the tender to Moneymine.

READ: 'Zuma's Nkandla tender not transparent, unfair' - SIU investigator

'Unfair process'

Pardesi was part of the regional bidder adjudication committee (RBAC) that awarded the contract to Moneymine.

Her hearing is part of the disciplinary hearings of 12 officials from the department accused of acting unlawfully in their roles in the R246m security upgrades of Zuma's homestead.

Legwabe said Moneymine was already on site before the tender was approved and "15% of work had already been done".

Legwabe on Wednesday said the process was not fair, transparent, adequate nor cost effective because "it did not allow other bidders to bid" and "the tender was not advertised".

"They had enough time to go for the open tender process. There was a long negotiation period between Moneymine and RBAC," he testified on Thursday.

Legwabe explained that Moneymine had been to Nkandla before, when they constructed a house there.

The police, defence department and State Security Agency went and assessed Zuma's homestead, but found that it was not safe and needed security upgrades, according to Legwabe.

"The owner of the property wanted Moneymine to come back and do the work because there was already trust," Legwabe said.

FOLLOW all News24 content on the Nkandla saga here

'Hush-hush' project

Jean Rindel, project manager, sent a letter to RBAC on March 17, 2009, asking them to use the negotiation strategy.

In motivating the use of the negotiation strategy, Rindel said the owner of the property had approved Moneymine to do the work.

"The project was hush-hush and rushed. Rindel was supposed to give RBAC members a pack [agenda] three days before the meeting as per the department's code of conduct. As responsible RBAC members, they could have refused to approve the tender," he said.

It was first thought the entire upgrade project, phase one and two, would have cost R14m, the hearing heard.

Moneymine was paid R6.1m for the first phase.

Moneymine was involved in the building of the main house, surrounding rondavels, the bunker inside the house and the perimeter fence as part of the upgrades in Nkandla.

The chair of the hearing, Advocate Thulani Khuzwayo, postponed proceedings to August 31 and September 1.

Pardesi's lawyer Adrian Moodley said there are some documents relating to phase two of the project that he wanted to get before he could start cross examining Legwabe.

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