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Johannesburg - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has launched an investigation into the awarding of tenders to new shop tenants of public property in Pilgrim's Rest, her office confirmed on Thursday.
“Yes, the public protector has decided to look into the matter,” it said.
“The investigation has commenced and the public protector is being assisted by her Mpumalanga provincial office to probe the matter.”
The investigation would determine whether all statutory requirements had been adhered to in the awarding of tenders.
The Freedom Front Plus said the probe was the result of media reports that tenants were given 30 days' notice by the Department of Public Works to vacate their shops and make way for the new recipients of the tenders.
FF+ parliamentary spokesman on economic affairs Anton Alberts asked Madonsela to investigate.
He said the original tenants had complained that they had not received responses, since November 2011, to their own tender applications, he said in a statement.
“It also appears that some tenants had been threatened by government officials that they would be removed from the properties if they did not vacate the premises by the end of July 2012.”
In July, the High Court in Pretoria issued an order restraining the Mpumalanga provincial government from evicting occupants of Pilgrim's Rest business premises.
Judge Stanley Makgoba criticised the tender process and the provincial authorities.
“I came to realise that the tenders awarded are marred with controversy and taken with some measure of illegality,” Makgoba said at the time.
“There is prima facie evidence that the awarding of the tenders was not made in accordance with the system that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive, (and) cost effective, as required in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.”
The business owners had filed an urgent application to prevent their eviction, after being served with notices by the public works department.
The provincial authorities were interdicted from awarding any tenders for new occupants to use the buildings.
The court ordered the respondents to furnish the applicants with the documents relating to the contentious tenders process, and adjudication would begin. - Sapa