R15.3 million tender for Limpopo’s Talana shacks fraudulent: SIU
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Rustenburg – The tender for the construction of Limpopo's most expensive shacks was fraudulently obtained, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said on Tuesday.
"The SIU investigation has revealed that the tender was fraudulently obtained. The appointed service provider, Aventine Group CC, made misrepresentations and forged documents of industry experts with no links to the company to influence the direction of the bid," spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said.
The Limpopo provincial government awarded a R15.3 million tender for the construction of 192 transitional residential areas, popularly known as Talana shacks.
Limpopo Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) identified a number of densely populated informal settlements in the province which made it difficult to observe physical distancing as per Covid-19 regulations.
"Priority was given to two settlements, Talana Hostel in Tzaneen and Burgersfort Ext. 10, which required urgent attention in the form of a partial relocation," he said.
In July 2020, premier Stanley Mathabatha referred allegations to the SIU with regard to the construction of shacks for hostel dwellers during the national state of disaster by the Limpopo co-operative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs.
Kganyago said the SIU was to investigate allegations of corruption, malpractice, maladministration and irregularities in the procurement of goods and services during the Covid-19 state of disaster.
"The investigation revealed that Coghsta appointed an implementing agent, the Housing Development Agency (HDA) for the establishment of transitional residential areas. HDA then appointed a service provider, Aventino, to construct 192 units to sum of R12.3 million.
An extension of scope was approved to include the construction of 152 pit toilets and installation of three water tanks (10 000 litres), for additional fee of R3 million, taking the contract value to R15.3 million," he said.
The service provider only managed to construct 40 shacks at Talana hostel and submitted two invoices totalling over R2.5 million, which were paid between April and October 2020.
In Burgersfort Ext.10 site, no structure was completed as there were only half build ones.
He said in line with SIU Act, the SIU has referred evidence pointing to criminal action against the director of the Aventine, Constance Mohlala, to the National Prosecuting Authority for further action.
Mohlala was arrested by the Hawks in December 2020, she is facing criminal charges for submitting fraudulent documents to influence the direction of a tender. Kganyago said the SIU made a referral to Housing Development Agency (HDA) recommending that the service provider be restricted from doing business with government.
"The matter has been escalated by HDA to the National Treasury for consideration. In addition to the above mentioned referrals, the SIU is in the process of instituting civil proceedings in the Special Tribunal to review and set aside the R15.3 million contract and recover financial losses suffered by the State."