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The Mamelodi Magistrates’ Court that never was — National Treasury points fingers at Public Works and Justice departments

The Mamelodi Magistrates’ Court that never was — National Treasury points fingers at Public Works and Justice departments
The Mamelodi East Magistrates' Court on 6 October 2022. (Photo: Supplied)

Treasury has rebuked the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for the protracted delay in the completion of the Mamelodi East Magistrates’ Court in Gauteng. 

In an article published by Daily Maverick last month, ‘The Mamelodi Magistrates’ Court that never was, and the contractor who couldn’t finish’, the department of Public Works had cited the Treasury’s refusal to grant it a variation order as one of the reasons that had caused the delay. The variation order, according to a Public Works statement in the aforesaid article, would have allowed for the inclusion of three specialised contractors into the scope of work of the court building, thus making it possible for construction to be completed. 

But now the Treasury has heaped the blame on the shoulders of both the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI)and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJCD) for the delay.

Construction of the Mamelodi East Magistrates’ Court started way back in 2013 and has not been completed to date. The original budget of the project was R124,590,958.60. R118,464,720.96 of that budget has already been spent. Factors like disruptive protests by members of the community, the project contractor (Fikile Construction) experiencing financial difficulties and refusal by the Treasury to grant a variation order were cited as reasons for the delay in the court project which was abandoned around 2014. 

A view of the incomplete Mamelodi Magistrates' Court building

A view of the incomplete Mamelodi Magistrates’ Court building that has been under construction since 2013. (Photo: Supplied)

Order denied

However, National Treasury has now outlined reasons for its refusal to grant the department of Public Works the variation order that it has requested. In an email from the Media Unit sent to Daily Maverick.  Treasury stated that the reasons provided to vary the contract were “not justifiable”.   It stated the following:

  1. Specialised contractors for additional scope of work were appointed separately from the Fikile Construction contract and there is no clarity as to why the DPWI now requests variation to include the aforesaid additional scope of work in the Fikile Construction contract.
  2. There is no clarity why the specialised, additional scope of work was excluded from the original DPWI advertised tender if it was for the same project.
  3. The process followed by the DOJCD and the Public Works in appointing the three specialists is not clear.
  4. In its request for variation, the DPWI has failed to confirm that its contract with Fikile Construction was still valid
  5. The DPWI requested to vary both the Fikile Construction contract and that of the three specialist contractors, but has up to now failed to provide these contracts for verification by the Treasury.

The specialist work that is in contention here comprises the installation of security systems, network and telephones, a court recording system and audio and visual systems, according to Minister of Public Works Patricia De Lille, as reported in the aforesaid article.

The DPWI has not yet responded to queries regarding the Treasury’s statement. 


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Blame game

In an email, Department of DPWI’s communications officer Thami Mchunu stated that “completion of the court building was delayed by non-appointment of the specialist contractors due to misunderstanding between DPWI and the DOJCD during planning.” 

And on why his department has not terminated its contract with Fikile Construction in the light of the contractor’s apparent failure to complete construction of the court and documented failure to complete its duties in other projects in the country, Mchunu responded, “We are not aware of contracts  which are not within our area of management.”

Department of Justice spokesperson Chrispin Phiri, in response to the persistence to keep Fikile Construction as the contractor in the court project, said “The contract 9 between Fikile Construction and DPWI and management thereof is not within the sphere of DOJ and CD.”

De Lille also cited financial difficulties on the part of Fikile Construction as one of the reasons that had led to the delay in completing the construction of the court, as outlined in Daily Maverick.

But Fikile Construction’s CEO Hlamalani Ndlovu insists that her company’s financial problems were not the cause of the delay; rather that the issue of specialist contractors was the cause. 

“Our work cannot be completed before the specialist contractors have concluded their work,” she said. 

The incomplete Mamelodi Magistrates' Court building.

The incomplete Mamelodi Magistrates’ Court building. (Photo: Supplied)

Fikile Construction scrutiny

Meanwhile, Fikile Construction has had at least two of its contracts with government departments terminated in recent years. City of Joburg website www.joburg.org.za reported that construction of state-of-the-art primary healthcare facility Orchards Clinic in Orange Grove has once again been suspended by the Johannesburg Development Agency after the main contractor, Fikile Construction failed to meet the September 2019 deadline to complete construction. The report further stated that Fikile Construction ceded the construction of the clinic to another contractor in January 2020 and work has since resumed. But Ndlovu insists that this contract was never terminated at all, though she didn’t support her denial with any facts. 

Voice of Cape FM reported on June 22, 2018 that the national Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) says it was forced to cancel the building contract of phase 3 District Six as it was behind schedule. The report came after Fikile Construction, the company that was awarded the building contract by the department, was terminated as contractor as a result of non-compliance with legal obligations.DALRRD Deputy Director of Communication Support Services, Vuyani Nkasayi, was quoted as saying the contract was terminated in March 2018. 

In response to this, Ndlovu said: “The District Six contract was terminated based on the challenges our company was having at that time, which challenges are not for discussion here.”

With regards to the court building still being incomplete after construction was started in 2013, local resident Duke Masemola said, “There is no doubt about it. The project’s money has been chowed. Do you think after almost ten years the money is still there? No.” 

Meanwhile, DA Shadow Minister of Justice Glynnis Breytenbach has weighed in on the matter, saying: “The new court has been under construction for years, and the envisaged completion date has long been forgotten and still no progress is made. This is yet another indication of how ordinary South Africans are denied access to services, and access to justice by the bureaucratic bungling of both the Department of Justice as well as the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.” DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Change is Good says:

    Why are we surprised. Another ANC legacy, never finishing anything because the funds have disappeared. another contract going to those who have no construction experience. We have to change this scenario by voting for better governance.

  • Louis Potgieter says:

    By the figures 95% of the budget has been spent. By the photos perhaps 50% of the civil value has been created. Is the difference perhaps due to shenanigans?

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