A North West politician has called for the suspension of the head of the Department of Roads and Public Works, Moses Ikgopoleng Kgantsi, for his role in the awarding of a R134 million contract to a contractor who previously abandoned two projects.
James Gadinabokao, the president of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) GATVOL, said Kgantsi should be suspended, and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) be cleared by President Cyril Ramaphosa to get to the bottom of tender irregularities, fraud and corruption in the province.
He has also vowed to open criminal charges against Kgantsi and Oberon Matsuvuki, the managing director of the company at the centre of the saga.
African Times reported this week that the provincial Department of Roads and Public Works rewarded Ndhuna Civil Engineering Services with a multimillion contract for the upgrading of the Khunotswana road in Zeerust in December last year, despite the firm not completing two roads in Rustenburg and Hebron in 2021. The Khunotswana contract is among a string of questionable tenders awarded to Ndunha Civils in North West, Limpopo, Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal.
Gadinabokao said they expected nothing but consequences management in relation to the Ndhuna contract, adding he had already taken up the matter with Hawks boss General Godfrey Lebeya, who referred him to provincial Hawks head General Patrick Mbotho,
“And the only consequences management is the suspension of the HOD, the investigation must start, and the President must put the SIU in there. General Lebeya has referred me to Mbotho, and next week a case will be opened against this man [Matsuvuki], and the HOD. Two cases must be opened. I have been saying to these guys, ‘What are you doing in our province? We are taxpayers here. We are voters here. We are residents of this province. I would be opening a case of corruption and criminal activities,” Gadinabokao said.
He said Kgantsi waited for three months to sign the Nduna contract because he insisted on meeting Matsuvuki in person first.
“He waited three months without signing it, waiting to meet him first to discuss the brIbery, to discuss what is in it for him. And it is the same HOD [Kgantsi] who is always pushing the payments for this company. So the case would be opened against the person who committed corruption and the one who is assisting him.”
Matshube Mfoloe, the spokesperson of the North West Department of Roads and Public Works, said the department is not aware of allegations that some of its senior officials accepted kickbacks from contractors in exchange for tenders or increasing the value of the work with variations.
“It is for the first time we hear of such allegations – from you – and no evidence of such has ever been reported or brought to the attention of the Accounting Officer, the Executing Authority or the law enforcement agencies. If such ever happened, as you imply, it was never ever brought to the attention of the Accounting Officer or Executing Authority to investigate. Senior Managers of the department are men and women who are professional, honest and committed to upholding the values of our Constitution and faithfully serve no other cause than that of the public,” Mfoloe said.
Mfoloe added that Kgantsi had no relationship whatsoever with Matsuvuki, nor did he even know him at all. However, a picture obtained by African Times from the department’s Facebook account shows Kgantsi personally introducing Matsuvuki to Khunotswana residents during an official handover of the project in March this year.
Matsivuki did not respond to detailed questions sent last week about his track record in North West, poor workmanship, the basis on which he got a R134 million contract after abandoning two projects, and allegations that he paid officials and politicians kickbacks to get his tenders. He initially agreed to an in-person interview but later ignored follow-up calls to schedule it.
According to official documents, the company abandoned the project for the construction of the road between Segwaelane and Wonderkop, and another road between Hebron and Letlhabile, after receiving a notice of termination from the department due to “poor workmanship”. The documents included appointment letters, service-level agreements, invoices and other correspondence between the two parties.
Ndhuna Civil Engineering left two incomplete road projects in Rustenburg and Brits in 2021, after pocketing R25 million, claiming cash flow problems and community disruptions. However, after pocketing R15.1 million, Matsuvuki halted the contract alleging cash flow problems. He then abandoned the project after receiving a notice of termination for poor performance.
The same goes for the Hebron project, valued at R21.5 million, for the special maintenance of the road in the Brits area. Ndhuna Civils again abandoned the site after pocketing R10 million, claiming it had run out of cash.
Matsuvuki, the owner of the Midrand, Gauteng-based company, has also been accused of inflating invoices and claiming for work not done. Last month he sent three invoices with different figures for the same job, which raised questions about potentially inflated or fraudulent claims by the company for its work on the Khunotswana project. The first two invoices were rejected by the department.