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Johannesburg - The boss of property management in the National Department of Public Works, Vusi Mashiane, has been found guilty of multiple tender fraud charges.
While Mashiane was waiting for a final verdict against him, his deputy in property management, Mokgaetji Bellah Tlolane, was fired last week for colluding with him when they “unlawfully” awarded a tender worth millions of rand to controversial businessman Roux Shabangu.
They were convicted of the same offence, but their internal hearings were heard separately.
Both hearings found that Mashiane and Tlolane had acted improperly in influencing the department to award a tender to Shabangu for more than nine years as required by the government’s BEE policy.
The tender was for office space and parking bays for the Department of Human Settlements at 114 Vermeulen Street in Pretoria.
The building, the hearings found, did not belong to Shabangu, but to a white-owned company, HKML - which made Shabangu not BEE compliant.
Due to the nature of his conviction, Mashiane is next in line to face the chop.
He was also found guilty of securing fully furnished accommodation for Cuban doctors working in state hospitals without following tender procedures.
The department suffered losses of more than R6 million in the three-year deal following the doctors’ occupation of the building at 117 Herbert Baker Street in Pretoria.
Mashiane was also found guilty of improper conduct after the hearing found that the owner of the building was known to him.
The internal hearing also found that the owners of the Herbert Baker Street building were fully briefed about the lease requirements before availing it for occupation.
Mashiane, however, was acquitted on the charge that he played a role in the awarding of a lease agreement of the Sanlam Middestad building to Shabangu.
The hearing found that it was Sam Vukela - a former public works acting director-general - who influenced the awarding to Shabangu. Vukela was fired for his role in that deal.
Tlolane was relieved of her duties on Thursday last week, after the presiding officer, Hamilton Maenetje SC, recommended her dismissal.
Tlolane was the same woman who refused to testify in a lease scandal involving former national police commissioner Bheki Cele.
In March last year, she claimed she was not medically fit to participate in the police lease deal scandal hearing.
“Public Works submits that the type of misconduct for which Tlolane was found guilty is prevalent in the department and has given it a bad name. The minister (Thulas Nxesi) is determined, and has made this determination public, to reverse this type of conduct in the department in order to achieve a clean administration.”
Tlolane pleaded with Maenetje not to dismiss her, for the sake of her children and the fact that she was looking after her terminally ill aunt and three cousins. But he refused, saying “dishonest conduct undermines such weight that such considerations might otherwise have.”
He also said it was unlikely that Tlolane’s misconduct would have been uncovered if the department had failed to rope in the Special Investigating Unit to investigate.
Tlolane’s lawyer, Christo van der Walt, had earlier promised to appeal against the dismissal sentence.
The Department of Public Works’ legal adviser, Phillip Masilo, said they welcomed the dismissal.
“The department will fight any attempts by the dismissed employee to reverse this decision,” he said.
Nxesi emphasised that stern action would be taken against any person found to have violated the department’s procedures and policies.