Claims of fishy deals rock fish­ing in­dus­try

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Regis Nya­makanga

SOUTH Africa’s multi-bil­lion rand fish­eries in­dus­try has been rocked by al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion and bribery, which has shaken cor­po­rates in re­cent weeks.

In­dus­try sources said yes­ter­day that last week’s sus­pen­sion of the director-gen­eral of the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­ing, Mike Mlen­gana, could open a “Pan­dora’s box” in an eco­nomic sec­tor, which is said to be rid­dled with dodgy deals.

Mlen­gana was re­port­edly sus­pended be­cause he re­fused to sign a mas­sive con­tract with The iFirm, a com­pany owned by two for­mer po­lice gen­er­als, Mzwandile Pet­ros and Thulani Nto­bela.

Pet­ros is the for­mer po­lice com­mis­sioner of Gaut­eng, while Nto­bela held the po­si­tion in Mpumalanga.

The con­tract was re­port­edly put in front of him with­out the proper ten­der process for con­tracts in ex­cess of R500 000 be­ing fol­lowed. Min­is­ter Sen­zeni Zok­wana an­nounced Mlen­gana’s sus­pen­sion last Wed­nes­day.

In­dus­try sources said the de­part­ment had re­cently awarded a num­ber of ten­ders un­der ques­tion­able cir­cum­stances, in­clud­ing one val­ued at R150 mil­lion, which was given to a pre­ferred com­pany, where a 19-year old sat on the com­pany’s board di­rec­tors.

Doc­u­ments sup­port­ing the bid showed that 19 year-old had 25-years ex­pe­ri­ence in the fish­eries in­dus­try.

In another bizarre in­ci­dent, the de­part­ment al­legedly is­sued a ten­der to an or­gan­i­sa­tion that never bid for it and had to ap­proach the courts to can­cel the ten­der.

De­part­ment spokesper­son Bomikazi Mo­lapo said: “We can­not com­ment fur­ther on this mat­ter, pend­ing the out­come of the in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

In May this year, the Direc­torate for Pri­or­ity Crime In­ves­ti­ga­tions, the Hawks, vis­ited the de­part­ment’s of­fices in Pre­to­ria and con­fis­cated a lap­top and cell­phone be­long­ing to an of­fi­cial.

The de­part­ment said it was co-op­er­at­ing with the Hawks’ in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Sources said Mlen­gana’s sus­pen­sion was the cli­max of long sim­mer­ing ten­sions be­tween him and Zok­wana. Mlen­gana said he knew he would be sus­pended for re­fus­ing to award the ten­der.

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