Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

SABC welcomes court’s decision to set aside R7m consulting contract

By Nicola Daniels Time of article published Dec 22, 2020

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Cape Town - The SABC has welcomed a judgment by the Gauteng High Court that set aside a consulting contract worth over R7 million for the replacement of lifts at its Auckland Park offices.

“The SABC welcomes the judgment...and is pleased that some monies paid to Mott McDonald would be repaid to the SABC. This is but one of a number of irregularly awarded contracts, in which the SABC has obtained court orders to review and set aside similar contracts,” SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said.

The matter centered on the contract not being awarded on an open-bidding basis but instead having Mott MacDonald as a sole provider of services contrary to the regulatory rules of the procurement scheme.

Judge Raylene Keightley found that the consulting contract was unlawful and invalid and declared it null and void.

She ordered the contractor to pay the SABC the balance remaining after the deduction of its reasonable expenses from the total amount it received.

“An initial, and important point to make, is that the applicants do not contend that Mott was involved in any form of corruption, or similar unethical practices in the awarding of the contract to it,” Judge Keightley said.

“The applicants’ case regarding the irregularity and illegality of the contract is that it was awarded without any compliance whatsoever with the procurement obligations of the SABC. As such, in concluding the contract they say that the SABC breached its constitutional obligation under section 217, and thus the legality principle. It is common knowledge that it (SABC) has had a troubled governance history, particularly in the era of the previous chief operations officer,” Judge Keightley said.

Yogan Govender, lawyer for Mott Macdonald South Africa said they found the judgment to be fair and comprehensive.

“The judgment indicated there was no evidence of corrupt activity on the part of my client. In terms of the remedy, Mott was entitled to retain a reasonable amount in costs for services it did provide to the SABC. Those costs will be determined by Mott’s own expert and sent to the SABC's attorney who will engage their own expert on the reasonableness of the costs. This will then be discussed and agreed on by both experts. On the issue of costs both parties were ordered to pay their own legal costs.”

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had also joined the SABC in the High Court for a review of the contract.

SIU head, advocate Andy Mothibi said: “This is a continuation of implementation of the SIU investigations outcomes and consequence management to recover monies lost by the SABC. There are other cases enrolled in the High Court and in the Special Tribunal awaiting adjudication and will result in further recoveries for the SABC.”

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Cape Times

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