Johannesburg - The Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) probe into a failed R295 million tender for upgrading of the Rooiwal waste-water treatment plant will unveil the depths of corruption and political patronage networks in the City of Tshwane.
This was the DA’s reaction to a proclamation signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa authorising the SIU to investigate allegations of maladministration and corruption in the tender awarded to a joint venture of CMS Water Projects and NJR Projects linked to controversial businessman Edwin Sodi.
The proclamation comes just a day after Sodi celebrated his 50th birthday with a lavish bash at his multi-million-rand property located in Bryanston.
His companies were appointed for Phase 1 construction in October 2019.
DA spokesperson in Tshwane, Kwena Moloto, said: “The DA has been resolute in dismantling the intricate web of corruption and political favouritism that was inherited from the previous administration.
“This mission remains ongoing, and the current investigation stands as a pivotal moment in our continuous efforts to rid the administration of corrupt officials.”
Moloto added that the investigation would not only unveil the depths of corruption and political patronage networks that persist in Tshwane but would also “contribute to the critical task of recovering funds that the metro is in dire need of.
“In October 2022, DA councillors, along with councillors of the multi-party coalition, cast their votes in favour of a report advocating for a thorough investigation.
“The awarding of a tender to NJR Projects, a company with ties to the questionable businessman Edwin Sodi and a contract value of R295 million, is the subject of the investigation.
“The joint venture did not have the required funds for site establishment. The City of Tshwane paid R1 million upfront to float the costs of site establishment.
“The joint venture, in contravention of the supply chain policies of the City of Tshwane, had to be ceded R71 million upfront because it lacked the resources for the initial capital outlay,” the party previously said.
Last August, the city terminated the contract following significant problems and delays with the quality of the work on the site due to continuous stalling.
Phase 1 of the project involved both civil and mechanical work for the refurbishment of various elements of the plant, as well as upgrading and extending others.
The refurbishment and upgrade project was needed to improve the capacity of the wastewater treatment works to process a large amount of wastewater coming into the plant.
For more than a decade, the problem of dirty water supplied to Hammanskraal residents has been attributed to the lack of capacity of the Rooiwal plant to purify wastewater, resulting in the sludge being discharged into the Apies River.
The Apies River, in turn, supplied water to the Temba water treatment plant, used for purifying water for the Hammanskraal residents.
In May this year, residents in the township had a cholera outbreak, resulting in more than 20 fatalities.
Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink also welcomed the probe.
“We welcome the SIU investigation into the 2020 tender to upgrade the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant. According to the city’s own forensic investigation, the tender was irregularly awarded. It also failed before the work could be completed.”
He added that the SIU investigation would “make it more difficult to hold individuals responsible for tender irregularities to account and potentially recover some money”.
“The city has, of course, already taken the steps necessary to blacklist these companies that have been involved with the tender so that they do not do business with the government at all,” Brink said.
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the unit would investigate “any unauthorised, irregular, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure incurred by the municipality or the state”.
Kganyago added that the probe will also look into allegations of maladministration and corruption in the affairs of the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and recover any financial losses suffered by the state in the procurement of Phase 1 upgrades and urgent refurbishments.
Brink’s sentiments were echoed by ActionSA provincial chairperson Funzi Ngobeni, who said the probe into Sodi’s affairs is a victory for the people of Hammanskraal, who have suffered cholera outbreaks due to water problems in the area.
“The report exposed that the City of Tshwane violated the Municipal Systems Act by failing to provide residents with safe drinking water and other services. The municipality has turned a blind eye for nearly two decades as citizens struggled to access clean and consumable water, subjecting them to hardship and horrible living conditions,” Ngobeni said.