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Johannesburg - Pikitup boss Amanda Nair is spending close to R200 000 of ratepayers’ money on legal fees to prevent The Star from revealing how she controversially awarded a tender to a company implicated in alleged fraud.
Pikitup has interdicted both The Star and the Sunday Times, demanding the return of the Ernst & Young draft report implicating senior officials - including former managing director Zami Nkosi - and several companies providing services to Pikitup.
The entity paid audit firm Ernst & Young R6 million to investigate irregularities by its officials and tender fraud by several companies.
A legal expert said the court application could cost up to R200 000.
“This includes consultation fees. A senior counsel can charge up to R30 000 a day. Remember, the attorneys also charge their own fees.”
Nair has already spent R228 000 in an attempt to defend herself against allegations of misuse of public funds and the awarding of the mutimillion-rand tender.
She took out full-page adverts in four daily newspapers, in a bid to defend her granting Aqua Transport Plant Hire a R263m tender despite being advised not to do so by the entity’s bid adjudication committee.
In the adverts, Nair also defended paying more than R60 000 for an all-expenses-paid trip to Austria for eight officials even though Pikitup was forcing residents to pay for replacement bins lost through use or theft.
At the same time, she sent two high-ranking police officers from Hillbrow police station to the offices of the Sunday Times on Friday to demand a document compiled by Ernest & Young.
Times Media Group attorney Eric van den Berg said they were turned away and not allowed access to the journalist.
“They did not have a search warrant - they said they were only there to conduct an investigation following a complaint that was laid. We undertook to provide them with a statement on Monday.”
Van den Berg said the name of The Star was also on the documents the police showed them, which implied they would be visiting the newspaper’s offices as well.
However, they did not approach The Star.
The report, which was leaked, was already in the public domain and its contents widely known.
It is believed that Nair is on a witch-hunt to find out who was responsible for the leak.
The question now being asked by opposition parties and residents is exactly how much the court application to get this document from the newspapers will cost ratepayers.
Nair refused to comment on the matter to The Star, referring her queries to her attorney. He, however, did not answer his cellphone.
The City of Joburg could not comment at this stage.
Bintu Petsana, head of the city’s communications, said that the matter was being dealt with by Pikitup, which was an independent entity.
On Sunday, DA chief whip and spokesman on Pikitup, Alan Fuchs, said: “This is typical reaction of a party functionary who, prima facie, appears to have something to hide.”
It was “especially questionable” that public money would be spent on legal fees to retrieve a document already in the public domain.
He said there should be an investigation to determine whether this was not “wasteful and fruitless expenditure, and if so, disciplinary action should be taken”.
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