Off the rails over non-payment

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Copy of BR Jabulani Mbinza 926 BUSINESS REPORT Jabulani Mbinza, the owner of Dez Cleaning Services, on duty as usual in Johannesburg. His company has not been paid by Prasa for about two months. Photo: Motshwari Mofokeng

Johannesburg - A Johannesburg businessman says he is being run into the ground by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), which has failed to pay him for services he has provided.

Jabulani Mbinza, whose company Dez Cleaning Services was appointed by Prasa on April 30 to clean coaches of Shosholoza Meyl, said on Friday he had not seen a cent from the contract. Shosholoza Meyl is the long-distance passenger train division of Prasa.

Mbinza, who has seven years’ experience in the cleaning industry, said he was a contractor for Prasa for six years until 2011. After that he remained on the rail agency’s data base.

He was appointed by Prasa on April 30 to begin work on May 1. As per the contract, Mbinza said he billed Prasa for R106 202 inclusive of VAT in May and for the same amount in June, but had not received payment.

He was being sent from pillar to post by Transnet officials in the procurement division. In the meantime, his 32 employees had been going without pay.

He said he was forced to go a number of times to the procurement division of Prasa, where he dealt with three different officials, to plead for payment.

Mbinza said at one time he was told there was no budget for his service.

Then this month he was told the contract was for three months only and would expire at the end of July.

“The official said he forgot to e-mail me the letter to that effect,” said Mbinza.

“I told them they were forcing me to commit a crime because I have to give my staff 30 days’ notice,” he said.

Mbinza said he asked his staff to go on working in order to fulfil the contract. Meanwhile, he is paying for cleaning materials out of his pocket or by credit.

He said the officials at Prasa refused to write a letter acknowledging that the agency owed his company so that he could show it as proof to his creditors and employees.

Prasa did not respond to an e-mail from Business Report on Friday despite being reminded.

Mbinza said he was contacted by Goodman Mntambi, an official in the procurement division, who promised payment and said he had not been around for a while.

Prasa is an agency of the government under the Department of Trade and Industry. Government departments and agencies are required by the National Treasury to pay within 30 days of receipt of an invoice from a small business.

This follows President Jacob Zuma’s public concerns that small businesses were going out of business because the government was taking too long to pay them, causing serious cash flow problems.

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