Cape Town International Airport is run by Acsa. The firm suffered a major legal setback. Photo: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA
JOHANNESBURG - The Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) yesterday suffered a major setback in its latest bid to get rid of one of its contractors after the Southern Gauteng High Court dismissed its application with costs.

Judge David Unterhalter said in a stunning judgment that Acsa’s application had failed to meet required standards and was based on an error of fact.

“Acsa simply cannot establish the facts that show Tswelokgotso Trading Enterprise (TTE) had three (or indeed any) letters of non-conformance issued against it and operative at the time TTE submitted its bid or thereafter,” Unterhalter said.

“The evidence as to the issues concerning the non-conformance letters issued against TTE is contentious and very far from being objectively verifiable.”

Acsa took to the courts to set aside its own decision to award a multimillion-rand tender for grass cutting and vegetation services to TTE.

Acsa argued that it had disqualified other bidders when it should not have done so.

The company also argued that it had permitted TTE’s bid to be considered and a tender awarded to it when in fact it ought to have disqualified the firm, because it had previously issued letters of non-performance against TTE.

The court, however, threw out both arguments.

The latest legal wrangle between Acsa and TTE follows last year’s decision by the Northern Gauteng High Court that Acsa was in contempt of court after it illegally tried to get rid of TTE from the OR Tambo International Airport, while a court interdict was in place to protect the black-owned entity against eviction.

TTE yesterday again made allegations that Acsa wanted to cancel its contract because it refused to pay bribes demanded by the utility’s officials.

“We were actually punished by racist Acsa officials, who are running Acsa from behind the scenes, and could not believe that black people can deliver quality work at an international facility like OR Tambo Airport,” said TTE group general manager Tshepo Mokgoatjana.

“We were also punished by our own people (Africans) for refusing to pay them bribes for work which we had competitively bid for.”

TTE made similar allegations in 2016, which prompted the board to press for disciplinary action against chief executive Bongani Maseko.

The board resolved to suspend Maseko.

“You attempted to undermine your employer’s efforts to investigate certain serious allegations made by TTE as reported by The Sunday Independent on or about March 6, 2016,” read the board’s draft charge.

Maseko, to date, has not faced any disciplinary action from Acsa, despite a myriad allegations against him.

Acsa spokesperson Hulisani Rasivhaga said that the company would decide whether to appeal yesterday’s judgment.

“Our legal department and the company’s attorneys are studying the judgment and are considering the company’s legal options.

"Unfortunately, we are not in a position to comment on the judgment,” Rasivhaga said.

“The issue of the chief executive (Maseko) is being dealt with by the board, therefore we cannot comment further at this stage."