SIU recommends blacklisting of Tzaneen temporary housing contractor
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Pretoria - The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has recommended that the Aventino Group CC which was meant to build temporary houses in Talana, Tzaneen, in Limpopo, be blacklisted.
Two weeks ago the SIU found that the R15.3 million tender awarded to the company for the project was obtained illegally.
The group was meant to build 192 temporary houses in Talana Hostel in Tzaneen and Extension 10 in Burgersfort, Sekhukhune.
The units were meant to help hostel dwellers who were exposed to threats posed by the Covid-19 pandemic during lockdown level 5.
It was also found that the units built did not adhere to its original design specifications.
Speaking at a press briefing after a meeting to present the SIU reports to Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha on Thursday, SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi said to date the institution had made two referrals to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to make a decision on whether to prosecute regarding the matter.
Mothibi said: “In the Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs Department we made two referrals to the NPA and recommended that one company be blacklisted. “It’s important to highlight that the driving focus of the SIU is to investigate serious maladministration and corruption. As we investigate and reach our outcomes of irregularities we send the findings to the courts. The courts then strive to recover money.
“In this case we have have made a referral for the company to be blacklisted.
“We also want to see the improvement of these administrations so companies that are found to be operating irregularly must be blacklisted.”
Six suspects from Aventino have since been arrested by the Hawks regarding the failed project. The Talana house project was done under the terms of proclamation R23 of 2020 when the SIU was directed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate allegations of corruption, malpractice, maladministration and irregularities in the procurement of goods during the Covid-19 state of disaster. Premier Mathabatha, who hosted the briefing, said: “The SIU has presented us with this report. You will remember that at some stage we requested them to investigate in this province based on the proclamations that were issued by the president at our request.”
Mathabatha has distanced himself from the saga and announced the SIU had been asked to investigate the shack settlement issue that had put him under fire.
The department had appointed the Housing Development Agency as the implementing agent for the project following its assessment of the residential situation in the hostels.
The SIU had found the tender given to contractor Aventino Group was fraudulent.
The SIU report read in part: “The service provider, Aventino Group, made misrepresentations and forged documents of industry experts with no links to the company to influence the direction of the bid.
“The investigation revealed that the department appointed an implementing agent for the establishment of transitional residential areas. The entity then appointed a service provider, Aventino, to construct 192 units to the sum of R12.3m. An extension of scope was approved to include the construction of 152 pit toilets and installation of three water tanks (10 000 litres), for an additional fee of R3m, taking the contract value to R15.3m.
“The service provider only managed to construct 40 shacks at Talana Hostel and submitted two invoices totalling over R2.5m. In the Burgersfort Extension 10 site, no structure was completed as there were only half-built ones. In line with the SIU Act, the SIU has referred evidence pointing to criminal action against the director of Aventino, Constance Mohlala, to the NPA for further action.