TELKOM’S SHORT STRAW
For reasons yet to be properly explained, Telkom froze payments to a small Pretoria supplier — and the owner sold his home to stay afloat
If 2018 has brought home one brutal truth, it’s that the behavioural gap between the private sector and public sector isn’t as vast as people used to think. Corruption? Sure, you can find that in Nkandla, but you can just as easily find it in Steinhoff’s accounts. Lying liars? Again, you can pick Malusi Gigaba or Bathabile Dlamini, or you could look at the KPMG accountants who “audited” VBS Mutual Bank.
Another charge is routinely levelled at the government: refusing to pay what it owes, and stomping on small businesses in the process.
Again, it isn’t just the government doing this. Take Telkom, which, court papers allege, folded its arms and refused to pay the final chunk of a R41.2m contract it struck with Pretoria business owner Nico Oosthuizen. Telkom apparently still owes more than R6m.
Oosthuizen has been around the block, having begun his career 48 years ago as a technical support engineer at Control Data Corp. But his fortunes took a turn for the worse in July 2016, when his company Netxcom ICT Solutions did a deal with Telkom to provide hardware and software to manage bandwidth use. The SA Police Service (SAPS) needed the tech, so it asked Telkom, which subcontracted to Netxcom.
For a while, all went well. Netxcom provided the service, and Telkom paid up. Then the cheques dried up. Oosthuizen’s lawyers wrote to Telkom, asking what had happened. But, they say, Telkom ignored them.
The failure to pay in full was a blow to Oosthuizen, whose business took a dive. “I had to sell my house, as
It’s not as if Telkom did anything — it subcontracted the actual work and added on a 37% mark-up