South Africa

NEWSDECK

Senior road agency management suspended for flouting tender regulations

Construction work at the M2 highway during Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s site visit ahead of closure on February 18, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Kabelo Mokoena)

Members of the Johannesburg Roads Agency’s top management team — including its managing director Goodwill Mbatha — have been placed on suspension after a forensic investigation into tender rigging at the roads agency.

A forensic investigation into tender fraud at the Johannesburg Roads Agency has resulted in the suspension of some of the agency’s top management, including its managing director, Goodwill Mbatha.

A statement released by the City on Tuesday said a series of investigations by external forensic firm Nexus, which followed an exposé by Carte Blanche in the first half of 2018, found that JRA senior management, including the “current MD of the entity, who was the CFO at the time the events were under investigation”, had flouted provisions of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

Among the contracts scrutinised was the one awarded to White Hazy Construction for repair work on the M1 double-decker bridge in 2015. Nexus found that White Hazy Construction had “falsified” information on its personnel and relevant experience.

Johannesburg’s bridges have come under the spotlight recently after the closure of the M2 motorway between Crown interchange and Maritzburg Street due to structural and design defects. It has since been revealed that only about 6% of Johannesburg’s 902 bridges are in good condition. The rest are in poor or very poor condition.

City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba welcomed the JRA board’s decision to adopt the forensic report findings and suspend the managers.

Despite anticipating the investigations being concluded swiftly, the investigation was only finalised in February 2019 due to the voluminous nature of the investigation, compounded by the dated matters under investigation,” Mashaba said in his statement.

In accordance with the forensic report, a criminal case has been opened and a submission made to National Treasury to blacklist White Hazy as a service provider to the government,” Mashaba said.

Commenting on the findings, White Hazy Construction owner Sole Siwele said this was the first time that he had heard about an investigation into contracts awarded to his company.

I don’t want to lie and say that there was never an investigation, but if there was, this is the first time I am hearing about it. However, the matter now sits with my lawyer,” Siwele told Daily Maverick on Tuesday.

Siwele confirmed that he was awarded the contract in 2015, but denied any fraudulent activity took place.

The contract has since been terminated by the JRA.

Mashaba said in his statement that inherited backlogs in the Johannesburg road network had led to more than 4,000km of roads and 700 bridges ending up in a poor condition. DM

Gallery

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted