Service delivery consultancy accused of overcharging govt by R76m wants direct access to SCA

The Supreme Court of Appeal
The Supreme Court of Appeal
Ben Bezuidenhout, GroundUp, Wikimedia, file
  • A Limpopo company wants direct access to the SCA over a R76 million payback order.
  • The company argued that the Polokwane High Court is saturated with litigation between itself and the SIU.
  • The matter involves a multimillion-rand contract with a local municipality.

A Limpopo company ordered to pay back R76 million it overcharged a local municipality has again lodged an application for leave to appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein.

Last month, the Polokwane High Court dismissed, with costs, the company's application for leave to appeal the judgment against the company's bid to set aside a damning Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report.

The company, Mphaphuli Consulting (Pty) Ltd, was found by the SIU to have entered into an invalid, multimillion-rand contract and subsequently overcharged the Fetakgomo-Tubatse Greater Municipality.

In court papers, the company's chief executive officer, Lufuno Mphaphuli, outlined the reasons for a legal bid to directly approach the SCA.

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Mphaphuli said there was numerous pending litigation between the company and SIU before the Polokwane High Court. It had been served before most of the judges of the high court, he said.

"By virtue of the  fact that there is pending litigation between the SIU and the applicant in the (Polokwane) high court and which proceedings served before a number of judges of the high court, it is undesirable that the appeal be heard by the full bench of the high court."

Mphaphuli said:

In the circumstances, the applicant will submit that the interest of justice and effective administration of justice would warrant that in the event leave to appeal is granted, such leave to appeal should be granted to the Supreme Court of Appeal and not the high court.

The matter involves a report by the SIU, which made adverse findings against the company.

Being aggrieved by the report, the company approached the Polokwane High Court for review of the report in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

Judge Gerrit Muller dismissed, with costs, the company's application for review on 3 March 2022. The judge again dismissed, with costs, its application for leave to appeal.

The company's relationship with Fetakgomo-Tubatse Greater Municipality dates back to 2012 when it was appointed as a consultant for "accelerating delivery of electricity to communities".

In 2015, a contract was signed for the electrification of 9 500 households at price of almost R164 million.

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An addendum was later entered into, whereby the number of households was increased to 13 325 for R232 million.

A second addendum was again signed, which increased the number of households 19 178, for an amount of R326 million.

The relationship went sour when the new management at the municipality stopped payments because of alleged inflated prices by the company.

The company successfully sued the municipality to an extent that some of its assets were attached, until the SIU was brought in to investigate the contract.

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