Official under probe gets top job

Johannesburg - Ntau Letebele was being probed for his role in alleged Limpopo roads and transport department irregularities. But he quit in a huff last week and has been given another high-profile job.

The new chief executive of Great North Transport, a subsidiary of the Limpopo economic development agency, a provincial government entity, resigned amid ongoing investigations into his role in the R52 million contract that partially benefited expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.

Former Limpopo Head of Department for Roads and Transport Ntau Letebele. File photo: Dumisani Sibeko. Credit: Independent Newspapers

The former roads and transport head quit shortly after a private law firm was appointed to investigate his role, even though his initial three-year contract had been extended for five more years last September.

Siviko Mabunda, of the anti-corruption group Forum of Limpopo Entrepreneurs, said the organisation would challenge the appointment.

“That is a reward for corruption. Such madness we are going to challenge, even if it means going to the highest court in the land,” said Mabunda.

Public protector Thuli Madonsela recommended in a report last year that Letebele’s conduct in the awarding of the contract to the controversial On-Point Engineering company - in which Malema holds shares - be investigated and that action be taken against him.

His appointment to the strategic position at the passenger bus company has been recommended by the economic development, environment and tourism Department - headed by MEC Pinky Kekana - to whom the bus company reports.

Kekana was previously Letebele’s boss in the transport department.

Madonsela’s report stated that Letebele had gone on to appoint On-Point, despite the fact that the company had faked its tax clearance certificate. The company had also lacked the prerequisite experience.

“It is mind-boggling why the stark discrepancies between the bid document and the tax clearance certificate did not disqualify On-Point or present red flags regarding the possibility of tender fraud to those who dealt with the bid, particularly the head of department,” Madonsela said in her report.

However, the report did not implicate Kekana in any wrongdoing.

Muthuhadini Madzivhandila, the chairman of the bus company, said Letebele had started his new job last Wednesday.

“We advertised the position several times, and we could not find a suitable candidate. With the skills that Ntau has, we requested to the shareholder that he be transferred,” said Madzivhandila.

He confirmed that the company’s shareholder was Kekana’s economic development department, but refused to divulge if the recommendation to transfer Letebele had been made specifically by Kekana.

“With due respect, I would not want to discuss that with you, because you are interrogating me now, and I don’t account to you,” said Madzivhandila.

He said the board had not considered Madonsela’s damning report about Letebele and the pending investigation against him.

“You are telling me now that he is under a probe. It’s news to me, I am not aware,” Madzivhandila said.

Letebele could not be reached for comment.

But a senior manager in Kekana’s office, Jossie Buthane, dismissed claims yesterday that Kekana had acted inappropriately.

“The MEC would not know of Mr Letebele’s movement. She does not hire or fire,” said Buthane.

Malema, On-Point directors Lesiba Gwangwa and Kagisho Dichabe, Limpopo businessman Selby Manthata and his wife Helen Moreroa, and the businessman’s brother Makgetsi were arrested last year and charged with money laundering, racketeering, corruption and fraud.