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Controversial Beit Bridge border fence contractors ordered to pay back the money

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) says it welcomes the Special Tribunal order stripping Caledon River Properties and ProfteamCC of profits earned from the R40.4 million contracts awarded by the Department of Public Works to erect the Beit Bridge border fence.

In his ruling, Judge Lebogang Modiba required the contractors to submit financial statement with expert support, reflecting the income and expenses incurred.

As part of the 2020 COVID-19 emergency procurement, contractors have won the tender to erect a fence to prevent the influx of migrants illegally crossing the border from Zimbabwe into South Africa.

According to SIU, both contractors were paid a total of R21.8 million in advance for the construction of the razor mesh fence.

“Shortly after the fence was erected, it began to fall apart and we initiated an investigating to see if the contract was valid,” said the SIU.

“After our intensive investigation, which uncovered several irregularities, including advance payments, the special tribunal interdicted and restricted the Public Works Department from making additional payments until we concluded the civil claim we instituted,” says the SIU.

The R40.4 million contract was reviewed and agreed by both parties. Payment is due within 60 days.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Samantha Graham, said the judgment is a step in the right direction, but the fact that no one was held accountable or faced sunction is unacceptable.

“It cannot be that of the eleven people identified as having played a part in this R40 million debacle, not a single disciplinary hearing has been finalised.”

Graham said the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, cannot just sit back and hope this embarrassing debacle goes away.

The SIU report found that her intervention in the appointment of suppliers was inappropriate.

“Now that contractors have been ordered to pay the money, this raises fresh questions about her conduct as a minister.” “She must acknowledge his irrationality and resign,” added Graham.

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