Businessman denies tender fraud allegations
THE Hawks have confirmed that investigations into local businessman, Ishwar Ramlutchman, are ongoing.
This after media reports surfaced earlier this month alleging that Ramlutchman had been involved in fraud regarding a R95-million tender which focused on installing boreholes to provide water to the drought-stricken rural communities of Endumeni, Nquthu, Msinga and Umvoti local municipalities.
Ramlutchman is believed to have been awarded the tender through the Umzinyathi District Municipality.
During a telephone conversation with the ZO this week, Ramlutchman denied the allegations as ‘groundless.’
Hawks provincial spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo, said the matter was definitely still under investigation, after rumours that they were dropping the case.
‘The case was reported last year and later transferred to the Hawks in Newcastle for further investigation,’ said Mhlongo.
The ZO understands that the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) is the complainant in the matter after it noticed that of the 800 boreholes meant to have been installed within the Umzinyathi District Municipality, only 186 had been completed.
According to District Mayor, Petros Ngubane, following a complaint the municipality employed a service provider to compile a report regarding the boreholes.
‘As far as we understand, the work was done and completed.
‘We are not part of any investigations and I cannot deny or agree with any of the allegations at this point.’
Ngubane distanced himself from knowing anything about the tender as he said he was not yet in office at the time it was awarded.
‘I had nothing to do with this, all I know is the tender was awarded to AC Industrial, the company owned by Ramlutchman,’ he said.
In August last year, the Northern KwaZulu-Natal Courier reported that CoGTA had tabled a wide-ranging forensic report of more than 100 pages on allegations of corruption, fraud and staff approving advance payment for work not done at the Umzinyathi District Municipality.
Ngubane at the time revealed that R303-million went to ‘some people’s pockets’.
Ngubane said the corruption started in 2014/2015 and that they would continue to investigate up to 2016, when the ANC relinquished power to the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) following the August 2016 local government elections.
Part of the allegations relate to the irregular award of tenders for water schemes in the area.
‘Definitely, we are going to take disciplinary measures and we are also taking the matter to the police; we won’t allow money of the poorest of the poor [to be] eaten like this,’ Ngubane was quoted as saying.