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Judge orders Limpopo municipality to pay businesswoman R5 million for reservoir contract

Workers dismantle the scaffolding at a reservoir in Thapane outside Tzaneen in Limpopo. Picture: Supplied

Workers dismantle the scaffolding at a reservoir in Thapane outside Tzaneen in Limpopo. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 23, 2022

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Pretoria - A Polokwane High Court Judge today ordered the Mopani District municipality to pay a Limpopo businesswoman R5 million for services rendered.

This is after Dikeledi Malatji registered an urgent application in court to have the municipality cough up after signing a 2018 contract to build a reservoir in Thapane outside Tzaneen in Limpopo.

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Malatji also accused the municipality of failing to pay engineers which had delayed the project for months as they would terminate their contracts prompting the municipality to find another engineer who would start from scratch.

The municipality, after causing the delays, was disputing the rates of the standing time.

However, Judge Gerrit Muller, dismissed the municipality’s assertions ordering them to pay Malatji immediately with costs.

In his order Muller said: “I’m directing the respondent (municipality) to pay to the applicant (Malatji) the sum of R4 981 990.66 as the amount certified by the first respondent agent under payment certificate number 22 issued in terms of clause 6.10.1 of the general conditions of contract of construction works.”

He also ordered the municipality to pay interest.

Malatji enlisted the help of Ezra Matlala attorneys who filed an urgent court application that was first heard on Tuesday.

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Speaking to Pretoria News after court, Malatji’’s representative Advocate Isiah Mureriwa said: “It is a beautiful judgment. But what is more important is that these projects are given out to women empowerment but they cannot be an instrument for women disempowerment. If the municipality had got away with it we would be sitting with disempowered women. Now that's what this judgment has done.”

Malatji said she was happy about the outcome after months of struggling to complete the project because of a shortage of money.

She said her ordeal began in 2018 when she first got the contract.

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“The first engineer was not getting paid and he quit because of all these stoppages which meant we had to stop until July 2020 when they appointed another engineer.

“We struggled to re-establish the site because of late payments from the municipality which resulted in myself paying workers from my own pocket because we would be idling while we wait for a new engineer.”

“So I have come to the courts so that the municipality pays the rest of the money so I can complete this project”.

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Before the judgment municipal spokesperson Odas Ngobeni had said they were aware of the court case and that they had lost it, but would communicate the way forward in due course.

He said: “It's true that we have a dispute with the contractor and it's also true that the matter is currently before the court.

“We will respect that process as it unfolds, our commitment to see the project completed remains. We will soon be engaging with the community to formally communicate the way forward”.

Pretoria News

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