Johannesburg - The High Court sitting in Mbombela, Mpumalanga has ordered that a R2-billion security tender awarded to 17 companies to guard all government buildings in the province must be cancelled.
The court said the award of the tender to companies – which the Sunday Independent, a fortnight ago, reported were owned by cronies and proxies of some officials and politicians in the province – was “constitutionally invalid”.
The order by the High Court on Thursday comes after three of the losing bidders took the provincial Department of Safety, Security and Liaison to court claiming, that the awarding of the tender was irregular.
The Sunday Independent reported two weeks ago that some losing bidders accused MEC Vusi Shongwe and the acting head of the department, Godfrey Ntombela, of allegedly accepting bribes and gifts from the successful bidders to influence the awarding of the multibillion-rand tender.
They claim the two men allegedly received bribes stuffed in sports bags from some of the directors of the companies awarded the tender.
They further claim some of the bribery transactions were recorded on camera.
Another source also claims that a businessman representing five successful bidders in the tender allegedly gave Shongwe a sports bag stuffed with R2.5 million in cash.
Shongwe and Ntombela failed to respond to questions sent directly to them.
Kingdom Mabuza, media liaison officer in Shongwe’s office, said at the time that “there is no grain of truth to these allegations”, that the MEC and Ntombela accepted bribes to influence the outcome of the tender.
The department’s spokesperson, Moeti Mmusi, on Friday refused to answer specific questions, saying the matter is “sub judice”.
“The matter is still sub judice as the interim order depends on other processes to be undertaken. Among others, the respondents are required to provide certain information before a final order is issued,” he said.
Mmusi said he wasn’t aware the losing bidders had also opened criminal charges against all the officials who were involved in the tender process.
The court also ruled that the department must pay the legal fees – estimated to be more than R2m, as one of the companies, according to the ruling, hired two legal counsels.
Sunday Independent also understands the losing bidders will also approach the court to make another order that the legal costs must be paid directly by the officials implicated.
“This corruption was done by these officials in their personal capacities to enrich themselves and the State must not suffer for their self-enrichment plans,” said a director of one of the losing bid companies.
Mmusi said the department wasn’t “aware of the intention of the application to bring any other formal application”.
Another director yesterday said that they have evidence that a total of R30m in bribes was paid to politicians and officials in the province to secure a slice of the R2bn tender.
“These guys were going to be paid millions per month for the next three years for nothing,” the director said.