Johannesburg - The Freedom Front Plus on Saturday welcomed the report by the Public Protector into the awarding of contracts in Pilgrim's Rest in Mpumalanga.
“The FF Plus is delighted that the report has uncovered the truth,” spokesperson Anton Alberts said in a statement.
“As was expected, the tender procedure was poisoned by gross irregularities and maladministration, of which some elements constitute fraud.”
The report exposed the unlawful eviction of 17 legitimate businesses in June last year and irregularities in the awarding of new leases to “previously disadvantaged” tenants in the historical gold mining town, which is a living museum and national heritage site.
The department of public works, which owns the buildings, gave the original tenants 30 days to close.
Immediately after the evictions, the business owners went to court and also lodged a complaint with the Public Protector.
Justice Stanley Makgoba halted the evictions in July 2012, pending a review of the tenders after finding that the processes were flawed, and not fair, equitable, transparent or competitive.
He ordered the department to give the court and lawyers of the evicted businesses the relevant tender documents for review.
The Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released her report into the matter on Thursday night and found that the “process was characterised by gross irregularities and maladministration”.
“Businesses that legitimately qualified to be awarded the tenders and many of which were running sustainable businesses beneficial to the community were prejudiced by or suffered an injustice due to the department's maladministration with regard to the award of the new leasing tenders,” said Madonsela.
She found the notice given to the evicted businesses was unreasonable and insufficient.
The businesses included a restaurant, an arts and crafts shop, pastry shop, jewellery store and a filling station.
Alberts said the report was an early Christmas gift for the current shop-owners.
He said they would study the report thoroughly and then consider whether they would be laying criminal complaints against the offenders.