Protests, demonstrations, and impending legal action forced the eThekwini metro municipality to bypass standard tender procedures and award a R224 million rand tender to Durban businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane's company.
“The slow delivery of houses and services has resulted in public protests, council being taken to court, and various other demonstrations by different stakeholders in the city,” municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said in a statement on Friday.
He did not provide details of the protests or legal action.
Mofokeng's statement follows allegations by the Democratic Alliance on Wednesday that Mpisane's Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport company had been awarded a R255m housing contract in Durban's Umlazi area in March.
The project had not been put to normal tender processes and was approved in terms of an emergency tender process.
“Every municipality's core mandate is centred around service delivery and it's possible to deliver without the habitual by-passing of usual tender processes.
“However, it has become the norm in eThekwini to by-pass normal tender procedures whenever a Mpisane company is involved and this is completely unacceptable,” DA eThekwini leader Zwakele Mncwango said.
However, Mofokeng denied allegations that Zikhulise was being unduly favoured, and said the contract was only worth R224m.
“In the past other contractors failed to deliver due to the nature of the terrain in the area and social unrest. The contractor, Zikhulise, was able to deliver on Phase 1 of the project despite the steep topography conditions of the site,” he said.
Since the project had been awarded, some 300 houses a month had been built and officials from the municipality, as well as the province's human settlements department and the National Home Builders Registration Council, had been on site to ensure quality building standards.
He said that phase of the project would end in June and the next phase of the project had been advertised for tender.
Mpisane's company had only one other contract worth R463m, awarded in November 2012.
Mpisane and her husband S'bu have made headlines over the past years for their lavish lifestyle and numerous court appearances.
At one stage she was facing various charges in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court, the Durban Regional Court, and the Pinetown Magistrate's Court.
These ranged from fraud and corruption to interfering with a witness.
None of the cases materialised and by the end of January 2014 charges were withdrawn. - Sapa