Three customary wives have taken their tussle over the body and burial of their dead husband to a Pretoria court.

North West Health and Public Works officials may have to explain their roles to the court in the awarding of a controversial R600 million property lease.

The two departments, and the provincial Treasury, have been embroiled in a battle over the validity of the lease of a building that has been described as “Sandton in Mafikeng”.

In addition, questions have been raised about irregularities in the tender process.

The Sunday Independent reported two months ago that the building’s owners, Gauteng developers Peolwane Properties, approached the Mafikeng High Court to try to force the provincial health department to move into the building and to pay the back rental of R40m that it owes the company.

But last week judge Rodney Hendricks put Peolwane’s application on hold, and it seems he thought the tender deserved a second look.

The court has given the provincial department six weeks to institute court proceedings to have the deal set aside.

The department’s legal representative, Selwyn Silent, said that the department has decided to institute proceedings.

Peolwane lawyer Kuvashan Padayachee believed the judge “merely adopted a cautionary approach”.

However, in court the company fought the decision, saying the health department had previously defended the lease in a separate court case involving a losing bidder.

It is not the first time there have been questions about this tender.

In 2010, the Department of Public Works forensic auditors Gobodo Incorporated investigated the tender.

Disciplinary action was recommended against at least six departmental officials.

The departments of Public Works and Health have, however, both denied that the final report had been tabled.

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Sunday Independent