SIU freezes former Lepelle Northern Water official’s R10m pension fund

Carel Schmahl's R10m pension has been frozen by the SIU.

Carel Schmahl's R10m pension has been frozen by the SIU.

Published Jun 20, 2023


Johannesburg - The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has been granted an order to freeze the pension benefits of a former senior official at Lepelle Northern Water (LNW).

Carel Schmahl, who was the general manager of operations, had his pension benefits worth about R10.2 million frozen.

The Special Tribunal granted the SIU an order to freeze the pension funds of Schmahl pending the finalisation of a civil action brought by the anti-corruption agency.

This comes after Schmahl was fired in December for allegedly tampering with resolutions of a task team meeting and using cost estimates of another company to motivate for the appointment of LTE Consulting for a project to provide clean water to villages in Giyani, Limpopo, as an intervention by the Department Water and Sanitation.

LTE Consulting was appointed to build wastewater and water infrastructure to supply Giyani villages with clean water to the value of R90.9m.

The other service provider was HWA Pty Ltd.

LTE Consulting was to handle wastewater treatment while HWA would focus on water works and associated infrastructure.

The project started in 2014, and had been intending to supply water to 55 villages in Giyani, of which residents raised concerns about their water quality and supply.

However, within 30 days, the cost and scoping of the project ballooned to R2.2 billion excluding tax without following supply chain management processes governing public procurement.

According to the SIU’s investigations, Schmahl's conduct was inconsistent with the National Treasury practice note on supply chain management in that he did not perform his duties with integrity and was not fair and impartial.

He allegedly used cost estimates of HWA Pty Ltd in support of his motivation for the appointment of LTE Consulting.

“Furthermore, SIU investigation revealed that Schmahl allegedly committed gross dishonesty by misrepresenting resolutions of a task team appointed to advise the Department of Water and Sanitation on intervention, and his actions have resulted in financial losses by the state,” the SIU said.

It stated that the order stopped Bidvest Umbrella Pension Fund, Bidvest Wealth and Employee Benefits, and Alexander Forbes Financial Services T/A Alexander Forbes Retirement Fund from paying out pension benefits due to Schmahl.

The SIU said it was authorised by Proclamation R22 of 2016 to investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration in the affairs of LNW in respect of the Mopani water and wastewater emergency intervention that included Giyani water and wastewater schemes.

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