A former head of the Department of Public Works in North West has been granted R50 000 bail in connection with a R470m irregular tender dating back 15 years ago.
Obakeng Eden Mongale (52) handed himself over to the police on Thursday for allegedly awarding IIima Projects and Tsoga Developers a contract to build the Brits hospital without following due process.
He was immediately charged with contravention of section 38 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) for his role during his stint at the department’s helm.
The Brits District Hospital is a high-tech replacement facility, which was demolished in 2008, to make way for the state-of-the-art building.
It was constructed to offer quality health services that include all stages of human development.
Officially opened in 2014, the hospital was fitted with 216 beds, providing services including accident, emergency and crisis center, surgical and medical wards, pediatric and neonatal high care, kangaroo mother care, X-ray, step down facility, maternity, theater, mortuary and laboratory services.
Not only was the tender irregularly awarded, but the main contractor had to stop because of financial problems, according to the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
“It is alleged that in 2008, Mongale awarded IIima Projects and Tsoga Developers a tender to the tune of over R470 million to construct Brits hospital. Investigations by Serious Commercial Crime Investigation revealed that the two companies were awarded the tender without meeting requirements,” said Hawks provincial spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Tinyiko Mathebula.
Mathebula said in 2010, Ilima Projects was allegedly placed under provisional liquidation, which resulted in the termination of the contract.
“A new company was appointed to complete the construction of the hospital. The department had spent over R57 million when the contract was terminated. The new contractor had to carry out two major remedial works amounting to more than R4 million, which resulted in the extension of time and cost, which constituted wasteful expenditure,” he said.
Mathebula added that Mongale’s bail conditions prevent him from travelling outside the country or communicating with state witnesses.
“The court further ordered the accused not to leave the province without informing the investigating officer. The provincial head of the Hawks in the North West, Major General Patrick Mbotho and the Director of Public Prosecutions in the North West, Dr Rachel Makhari, lauded both the investigation and prosecution team for working in collaboration towards ensuring that the accused is brought before court to answer to the allegations against him,” said Mathebula.
Mongale has a long history in public service. After leaving the North West Department of Public Works and Roads, he joined the Limpopo Department of Public Works and Infrastructure before returning to North West as head of the provincial Department of Health.