SAPS R500m lease deal claims another victim
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Johannesburg - The controversial police lease deal that led to the sacking of former national police commissioner Bheki Cele has landed yet another public servant in hot water.
Sam Vukela – a senior Department of public works official who awarded a R500 million lease deal to property mogul Roux Shabangu following a 10-minute meeting with the police – has been found guilty.
Vukela awarded the deal to Shabangu on May 14, 2010 after he met Lieutenant-General Hamilton Hlela, where the need for police accommodation and parking was discussed.
After that meeting, the internal public works hearing found Vukela then instructed officials in the department’s supply-chain management to secure the Sanlam Middestad Building in Pretoria – to allow them to operate from there during the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Vukela made this decision just a few days before the kick-off.
Last week, an internal public works hearing found him guilty on three counts of misconduct.
On the first count, it was found that Vukela had on May 11, 2010 accepted “a say-so” of a member of the police, Hlela, that the police had urgently required accommodation at the Sanlam Middestad building in Pretoria – a building owned by Shabangu.
On the same count, the hearing found that he caused the Department of Public Works harm for failing to verify whether the police needed the accommodation urgently – less than a month before the hosting of the World Cup.
Vukela was also found guilty of flouting the government’s procurement procedures as he had deviated from standard procedures without involving supply-chain management officials.
He also breached Treasury regulations by failing to put out the tender for a competitive bid process.
On the third count, Vukela was found guilty of failing to report to the Treasury, giving reasons for deviating from the normal tender procedures within 10 days as required by the law.
Vukela gave Shabangu the tender on May 14, 2010 and reported it to the Treasury only on February 2011.
In the documents, seen by The Star, the Department of Public Works secured the conviction following the testimonies of Gavin Stansfield, a director at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Inc, and Eulala Kruger, the department’s acting chief director in supply-chain management.
The law firm was contracted to probe the circumstances that led to the deal.
Stansfield conducted various interviews with senior officials responsible for procurement in various departments.
The hearing also heard that Vukela placed considerable pressure on members of the Special National Bid Adjudication Committee to fast-track the tender process and to conclude the lease agreement with Shabangu.
Vukela’s counsel, Graham Moshoana, confirmed that he received the verdict for his client. He said he was considering challenging the verdict at the bargaining council.
He also did not overrule the possibility of approaching the Labour Court to overturn the decision.
Sentencing is expected later this month.