The transport Department has indicated that it was co-operating with an investigation by the public protector into a complaint into alleged irregularities in awarding a tender exceeding R13 million to manage conference and communication services for its investors’ conference in June last year.
A competing bidder submitted a bid worth about a quarter of the winning bid.
Sam Monareng, a spokesman for the department, confirmed the department was also engaged in internal processes to address the issue.
Monareng said the department had noted the report by Corruption Watch about its investor conference. It viewed any allegation of corruption in a serious light and was committed to addressing elements of corruption whenever they surfaced.
“We are aware of this complaint and other processes related to it. The office of the public protector has already made contact with the department regarding this issue and we are co-operating with the process,” Monareng said.
An investigation by Corruption Watch uncovered the alleged irregularities in the awarding of the tender by the department to Global Interface Consultancy, which it described as “a relatively new and inexperienced company”.
Gobal Interface Consultancy submitted a bid for R13.57m.
Indigo Design and Event Marketing, one of the losing bidders and a black economic empowerment accredited company of long standing in the industry, had submitted a bid for R3.84m.
Indigo Design lodged a complaint with the department and the public protector. The complaint was also brought to the attention of Corruption Watch soon after the launch of the civil society organisation in January.
Bongi Mlangeni, the head of communication at Corruption Watch, said further investigation by it into the tender award revealed gross irregularities in the tender process.
This included that the controlling shareholder at the winning bidder, Patrick Nyathi, who became a director of the company about five months before it was awarded the contract, was also registered as a director and shareholder of a web of companies that did business with the Department of Transport and other government entities.
“One of the irregularities in the tender bid is the apparent failure of the winning bidder to disclose Mr Nyathi’s other dealings with government,” Mlangeni said.
Mlangeni said this investigation as well as two other investigations conducted by Corruption Watch over the past four months related to serious acts of corruption involving irregular tenders and the misuse of millions of rand had been handed over to the public protector for further investigation and possible action.
He said Corruption Watch was in the process of formalising a working relationship with the public protector.
David Lewis, the executive director of Corruption Watch, said the organisation’s main goal was to see that the cases it took to the public protector led to further investigation facilitated by its statutory powers and ultimately a referral for criminal prosecution.
“We will closely monitor the cases that we hand over to the public protector and we will assist her office with further evidence and information gathered from the public,” he said.
Lewis stressed the importance of the public playing an active role in reporting corruption, stressing this was the only way that Corruption Watch could succeed.
“The more people tell us what is happening in their communities and give us as much detail as possible, the better we are positioned to expose corruption and bring the perpetrators to book.
“It should be stressed that this case and each of the serious acts of corruption that we are investigating were reported by alert members of the public,” Lewis said.