THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has ordered a forensic investigation into allegations of tender corruption in the Limpopo Department of Roads and Public Works.
This comes after its own probe found that there might have been “possible corruption” in the procurement of the department’s R26 million worth of Information Communication and Technology infrastructure in 2014.
A 10-page report seen by African Times this week has confirmed allegations made by union Nehawu in 2015 that four companies – Tazy Investments, Enabling ICT Solutions, CHM Computer Solutions and Ikando CC (IT Master) –may have been irregularly awarded contracts to supply ICT infrastructure worth more than R26.1 million.
These include laptops, uninterrupted power supply (UPS), printers, disaster recovery servers, routers and switches, as well as boardroom solutions.
The NPA’s Deputy Director for Employee Relations Melanie Du Toit, the investigating officer, compiled the report after investigating 13 allegations contained in a dossier handed over to the department by Nehawu Limpopo secretary Adam Jacobs in September 2015.
The dossier placed the department’s director for ICT, Kgomotso Malope at the centre of procurement irregularities.
Du Toit confirmed in her report that the department had procured goods that did not reach their intended beneficiaries, and paid in advance for services that were never rendered.
“The information at our disposal shows that there might be possiblecorruption within the ICT unit. We received more information about goods that were procured but not distributed to officials and which were paid prior to delivery of the items. This was reported to the HOD in April by CFO, Mr Modika,” the NPA report said.
“It was also established that video conferencing material was procured and paid for prior to delivery. The video conferencing material is not installed, except for one boardroom and in one region (we are not sure it is in working order) whereas the department paid for installation already as it was part of the agreement with the service provider.”
The report further noted that the Auditor General had also commented about the “use of same service provider and non-compliance with procurement procedure” in his 2013/2014 management report.
“An interview is scheduled with Ms [Kgabo] Lekganyane and Mr Malope. Based on the information at hand a forensic investigation is proposed,” Du Toit added.
African Times understands that the majority of Limpopo government departments have faced similar allegations of ICTtender corruption and irregularities.
It is alleged that most Government Information and Technology Officers (GITO) in the province have corrupt relations with service providers.
They have been regularly showed with gifts, dined and wined by service providers in recent years in exchange for procurement favours, according to government sources.
They say some GITO officials have accepted free rides on boats organised by service providers while others have had even cows bought for them.
Pictures seen by African Times this week show about five officials enjoying drinks at a fancy restaurant with prominent ICT service providers.
Paena Galane, the spokesperson for the Limpopo Department of Roads and Public Works said MEC Jerry Ndou has “noted” the NPA’s report.
“The MEC has noted the final report from the investigations. He is currently coordinating diaries of the departmental HOD, provincial DG (Nape Nchabeleng) and Nehawu about the outcome and way forward with regard to the recommendation of the report,” Galane said.
Malope said he was aware of the NPA report and allegations levelled against him, but denied any wrong-doing.
“To me, we followed due process of procurement; purchase orders which are allowed by the PFMA. Remember, we were under administration and Section 100 (1)(b) has certain conditions tied to it. If there is any irregularity; any allegation; that maybe must be questioned to the intervention team which was in place at the time,” said Malope.
He confirmed that goods were procured and paid for but insisted that everything was done through the department’s supply chain management (SCM) unit.
“Anything that gets awarded is a SCM process, which is in the CFO’s office. So, if somebody believes there were irregularities, the irregularity would have happened at SCM, of which I am IT, not SCM. I am not the one who hires people, for instance,” Malope added.
Jacobs said Nehawu has been briefed about the contents of the NPA report but has yet to receive it.
“But we were told by the department that the report is ready. There is a meeting which we have requested with the MEC of Public Works,” Jacobs said.
What the NPA investigated
According to the NPA report, the prosecuting authority had probed allegations that:
- Tazy Investments was paid R1 155 700.00 to supply 91 Lenovo Thinkpad T530 Laptops and carry bags, but eventually delivered 19 laptop less. The director (Malope) signed the invoice on March 28, 2014 and payment was made on April 1, 2014 for the full amount as per the purchasing order.
However, Tazy delivered L530 laptops instead of T530 as per its quote. It delivered 37 L530 laptops on March 2014, 21 on April 08 and 14 on April 16. At least 19 never reached the department.
- Enabling Solutions were paid R4 million to supply UPS, printers and a disaster recovery server. A director signed an invoice on March 24, 2014 and Malope and then administrator Mbuyi Dondashe checked and verified payment of R1.9 million. These included R1.2 million for five UPS, delivery and commissioning with a three year maintenance contract cost worth R475 000 and electrical work, supply and connection to the tune of R37 000.
However, CFO Modika complained in a 2015 email to Malope that the UPS were still unconnected and that that amounted to fruitless expenditure. The department issued a purchase order for printers worth almost R2 million. Malope signed the delivery note on March 20, 2014 without verifying the goods. He and Dondashe then authorised payment on March 25.
- CHM Computer received a purchasing order for the supply of routers and switches worth R1.3 million on March 18, 2014. Malope received the invoice on March 25, 2014 and he and Dondashe authorised it the same day. Payment was made eight days later on April 3 despite there being no accessories to support the routers to work.
- IT Master received a purchasing order worth R1.2 million on March 13, 2014, delivered an invoice 11 days later on March 24 and got paid seven days later on March 31. However, the video conferencing facility is still not working.