The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) says the arrest of four people linked to alleged tender fraud in the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is a continuation of the corruption busting unit’s efforts to recover money stolen from the public purse.
This after four people – Jan Mathebula, Solomon Mojela, Romeo Malope and Prudence Mohale – were arrested and appeared in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court for allegedly colluding to defraud the department of at least R2.8 million through corrupt tenders.
SIU spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago, said the arrests follow an investigation which found that employees in the department’s supply chain management office “colluded with businesses, friends and family members to defraud the department through cover quoting”.
“The SIU’s investigation revealed a trend of certain contractors being awarded more contracts than others. This disparate award of contracts was underpinned by a practice that indicated that entities linked to certain individuals or entities appeared to quote in collusion with each other.
“The invitation of suppliers onto the database of suppliers appears to have created an environment where the database is populated with various entities all linked to a single individual, who is the ultimate beneficiary of the contract award,” Kganyago said.
He added at least six other people are expected to be arrested – including the mastermind behind the scheme.
“The analysis of the data from the department revealed that 11 entities linked to one individual submitted quotations to the department, thus misrepresenting to the department that they were obtaining independent quotations.
These actions led the department to believe that the markets were dictating the prices being charged, when in fact the prices were being determined by the collusive actions of the 11 entities.
“The effect of this practice was to ensure that the competitiveness and fairness element relating to public procurement was circumvented, allowing the suppliers, rather than a competitive and cost effective process, to dictate the charged prices,” Kganyago said.
Mathebula, Mojela, Malope and Mohale have each been granted R2 000 bail, with the case postponed to 17 June for further investigation.