Par­lia­ment’s pre­cious wa­ter snatched from un­der its feet

Sunday Times - - News | Politics - By THABO MOKONE

● A gov­ern­ment con­trac­tor has been caught al­legedly steal­ing huge amounts of wa­ter from par­lia­ment’s reser­voir and sell­ing it to drought-hit Capeto­ni­ans.

Par­lia­men­tary of­fi­cials said they caught em­ploy­ees of the com­pany — hired by the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works to do high­pres­sure clean­ing of pave­ments, bins and walls — help­ing them­selves to thou­sands of litres.

The em­ploy­ees had been seen driv­ing in and out of par­lia­ment in a truck loaded with huge in­dus­trial wa­ter tanks, they said, and it was as­sumed the com­pany was bring­ing in “grey” wa­ter for its op­er­a­tions.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan af­ter par­lia­ment’s wa­ter con­sump­tion spiked, and of­fi­cials found the com­pany was pump­ing wa­ter from the un­der­ground reser­voir onto its truck, then sell­ing it for about R3 000 a tank to house­hold­ers.

When con­fronted, the al­leged thieves first claimed to be trans­port­ing un­pu­ri­fied wa­ter to clean other gov­ern­ment build­ings, then said they were tak­ing it to Ge­naden­dal, the of­fi­cial Cape Town res­i­dence of the pres­i­dent, which uses bore­holes as back-up.

Par­lia­ment’s spokesman, Moloto Mothapo, said a pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion had found that wa­ter has been taken with no per­mis­sion sought from the act­ing sec­re­tary to par­lia­ment, Baby Tyawa.

“The of­fi­cial re­port that par­lia­ment has re­ceived from the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works is that the potable wa­ter is be­ing taken from par­lia­ment to use for clean­ing ser­vices at sev­eral state build­ings,” he said.

“The depart­ment has ac­knowl­edged and apol­o­gised that no per­mis­sion was sought from the sec­re­tary to par­lia­ment, which is highly ir­reg­u­lar. This has been or­dered to stop . . . The pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers have learned of this with con­cern and have asked for a full re­port.”

Pub­lic works spokesman Thami Mchunu said the con­trac­tor tapped into the reser­voir with­out per­mis­sion. “The depart­ment ac­knowl­edges that it did not dis­cuss this mat­ter with par­lia­ment and ob­tain their con­sent in ad­vance. An apol­ogy was is­sued to par­lia­ment and the ser­vice provider was in­structed to stop with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.”

Pic­ture: Thabo Mokone

A truck car­ries wa­ter from par­lia­ment’s sub­ter­ranean reser­voir.

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