‘Prince’ denies role in tender fraud
PHILANTHROPIST and businessman Ishwar Ramlutchman, who unveiled a number of peace pillars in KwaZuluNatal, has denied being involved in fraud and corruption in a R95 million borehole tender.
An investigation by the Hawks is looking into contracts awarded to Ramlutchman related to a drought-relief tender from the Umzinyathi Municipality in northern KZN.
This was to install boreholes to provide water to the drought-stricken rural communities of Endumeni, Nquthu, Msinga and Umvoti municipalities.
However, it is alleged that the money disappeared without being used for the intended project.
Ramlutchman has denied having been involved in fraud and corruption, while confirming getting a tender to drill boreholes “through a consultant”.
“The work was done. At this stage it is all accusations,” he said.
He added he was surprised to hear that the Hawks were investigating him as they have not contacted him.
Hawks provincial spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo said the case against Ramlutchman was registered with the police last year.
District mayor Mthandeni Ngubane said he could not elaborate on Ramlutchman’s tender as it was the subject of an investigation. “A company was hired to verify if the boreholes are operational. Some are them are operating while others need to be repaired,” he said.
He said the Gift of the Givers was busy repairing the boreholes in the area.
“We have started an initiative to repair boreholes using money from the Department of Water and Sanitation.
“The R95m was the cost of the tender to install boreholes and repair the broken ones. I have a report, which is subject to correction, that states that there was a forensic investigation and there was verification of the boreholes conducted by a company that was hired by the municipality.
“The company came back with a report that says the boreholes are there,” said Ngubane.
Meanwhile, King Goodwill Zwelithini has distanced himself from the probe. His spokesperson, Prince Mbuyiseni Zulu, said that the investigation against Ramlutchman had nothing to do with the king and the royal family.
“There are many people who are close to the king, but their personal issues have nothing to do with the king,” said Zulu.
Ramlutchman was given the honour of being made a “prince” by the king last year, a ceremonial gesture of accepting him into the Zulu culture to thank him for his role in extending a hand to other cultures and for his anti-racism stance.