The company that won a tender to produce millions of orange recycling bags for eThekwini Municipality was incapable of producing the product, had underquoted and regularly missed its deadlines, an investigation has found

DURBAN - The Hawks commercial crime unit has launched a probe into Durban Solid Waste (DSW) for the allegedly irregular awarding of a R90-million orange recycling bag tender.

Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo, said: “There is still a lot that needs to be done in the investigation.”

The probe comes after political party Minorities of SA (Mosa) laid criminal charges against implicated officials after allegations that the eThekwini Municipality failed to take action.

The allegations first emerged in February when a forensic investigation into the tender found that the tender process was fraught with irregularities.

Also read: Orange recycling bag contract riddled with irregularities

The report highlighted that the award was made to a company which lacked experience and the technical knowledge.

It also highlighted that certain officials had signed off the tender despite knowing that the company, Persian Star Investments did not meet the requirements.

The report found that the company was wrongly awarded the tender and that it made misrepresentations in terms of its capacity to handle the contract. The company also failed to meet its end of the deal which resulted in the city running out of orange bags.

The programme, which was introduced almost 10 years ago, is an initiative to promote recycling. The city hoped it would help reduce waste at landfills and promote the separation of waste at source.

However, the programme has faced several major interruptions. The company failed to deliver on its first order in 2015.

The report recommended that criminal charges be laid against those implicated.

However, Mosa’s Narendh Ganesh said even though it had been three months since the report was released, no action had been taken by the municipality.

Although municipal employees implicated in the report were “suspended”, according to city manager Sipho Nzuza, Ganesh alleges that they are still at work.

“The municipality seemed to be dragging its feet. With a mandate from my executive committee, we approached the Hawks Organised Crime Unit which explained the various agencies that were to be involved and subsequently laid formal charges at the Sydenham Police Station,” said Ganesh.

He said he was interviewed by the unit at John Ross House where it has the docket in its possession for investigation.

eThekwini Municipality’s acting head of communications Mandla Nsele said: “The matter has been handed over to the city’s legal services department for the implementation of findings and recommendations made.

Also read: Fears over eThekwini tender secrecy

“This matter therefore becomes a private matter between the employers and the employees who are mentioned in the report.

“The city does not discuss internal, matters with a third party as these are confidential between the employer and concerned employee.

“If and when there are labour related issues we address those concerns directly with the employee/s concerned.”

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SUNDAY TRIBUNE