Firm in toilet fiasco wins new contracts
Blacklisted after not one loo built, Uhlanga signs contracts with City worth more than R100m
CITY officials and political parties have lashed out at the recent awarding of two new contracts worth more than R100 million to a company allegedly involved in irregularities.
The director of Uhlanga Trading Services signed off on a R97 million waste management contract recently, despite being implicated in a scandal involving the construction of more than 200 toilets in impoverished areas.
A damning report, compiled in February by the city’s integrity and investigative unit (CIIU), which was leaked to the media, revealed that Uhlanga and three other companies were paid in full (R36m) to complete the project, but not a single toilet had been erected when the CIIU report was compiled.
The report also revealed that procurement procedures had allegedly been flouted when the contract was awarded. It was recommended a case of fraud and uttering be opened with the SAPS.
Another recommendation was that Uhlanga and the other companies, Magubane Plant and Contractors, Soundrite Sound and Temblos SA, implicated in the toilet tender, be blacklisted.
But, Uhlanga continued to be recipients of ethekwini Municipality contracts.
In February, Uhlanga landed another R36m contract to construct an electricity station in the Stocksville area, near Kloof, which was revealed in a report released by the city’s executive committee.
Hlenga Sibisi, the owner of Uhlanga, said he had not been given access to the CIIU report. Therefore, he could not comment on the recommendations made in it.
He said the company had been asked to meet the CIIU but that had not happened because a date was yet to be confirmed.
Sibisi said the waste management and electricity contracts had been awarded to Uhlanga because his company met the required criteria.
“Due processes were followed and we were awarded the tender fairly. Those contracts were signed many months ago. My company is not blacklisted and I have always been compliant with tender processes. We cannot comment on what political parties are saying or the city’s internal processes.”
About allegations that he landed city contracts because of his friendship with the mayor, Zandile Gumede, Sibisi said: “Zandile has been a councillor for many years and I am a member of the ANC. How can I not know her? But that has nothing to do with tenders because my bids were fair.”
The DA’S caucus leader in the ethekwini municipality, Nicole Graham, said her party was concerned about Sibisi’s dealings with the city and has sent a written enquiry to city treasurer Krish Kumar to obtain clarity.
Graham said the DA noticed in an executive committee document that after a forensic audit had been conducted and recommendations were made that Uhlanga be blacklisted, still, the company was awarded a contract.
“I have written to Krish (Kumar) and Andre Petersen (head of the city’s supply chain management) for clarity on what they intend to do about Uhlanga’s blacklisting and how the (electricity station) contract was awarded,” said Graham.
“We need to find out what has been the progress and if the city has considered blacklisting all the companies which were named in the forensic report,” she said.
A source within the municipality said that the two officials who were responsible for awarding of the toilet contract were back at work and allegedly had not faced a disciplinary hearing as recommended.
Mdu Nkosi of the IFP laid the blame for the numerous tender irregularity allegations at the feet of the city’s bidding adjudication committee (BAC) and treasurer (Kumar).
“I always question how Krish made payments to companies he very well knew ought to be blacklisted.
“I also don’t understand how the BAC continues to award tenders to such companies, in spite of the recommendations. “The first problem is that the CIIU report has never been submitted to exco for members to scrutinise and ensure recommendations are implemented.”
Kumar said the allegations were unfounded.
“I do not sit on the BAC nor do I sit on the blacklisting committee. Due processes are followed and if only documents are in order are payments signed off,” he said.