Four villages have rejected Roads Agency Limpopo’s (RAL) R8 million project awarded to corruption-accused company, Ndhuna Civils, saying they wanted the road to be tarred and not re-gravelled endlessly.
The communities of Ga-Mokgwathi, Daniel, Lekgwareng and Dzumeri in Mopani took a resolution to bar Ndhuna from the site in separate tribal meetings last month, according to the chairperson of the D3187 Mokgwathi-Dzumeri Road task team.
Wilfred Machethe told African Times that residents agreed that Ndhuna and RAL must not touch the road unless they are tarring it. Moreover, he said they mandated the task team to take up the matter with RAL and Limpopo Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure MEC Nkakareng Rakgoale.
The task team includes representatives of the four tribal authorities, civic structures, business forums, ward committees, and the Bolobedu, Nwamitwa and Giyani taxi associations. According to Ga-Mokgwathi residents, they chased away a RAL official, known only as Mr Phasha, when he tried to hand over the site to Ndhuna’s representatives and an engineer during a meeting held at the tribal authority on October 24.
African Times previously reported that RAL had awarded Ndhuna a R8 million contract to re-gravel the road stretching between Ga-Mokgwathi and Dzumeri villages outside Tzaneen.
This was despite the company’s owner, Oberon Matsuvuki, being investigated by the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for alleged tender corruption and fraud in the North West.
He has been accused of paying senior officials R10 million to secure a R134 million tender for constructing a road in Khunotswane near Zeerust last year.
“After there was an initiative by public works and RAL to re-gravel the road, we started a campaign to object to their view and mobilized the communities to reject re-gravelling. Instead, we want the road to be tarred. We believe all the Bemuda roads that came after D3187 road have been tarred. Number two, they have a budget of R8 million to re-gravel. We are saying that as the four communities – Mokgwathi, Lekgwareng, Daniel and Ndhambi – let them beef up the money and construct a tarred road,” Machethe said.
He confirmed that Ndhuna and a RAL official were sent packing.
“Already, the contractor [Ndhuna] was on site. When he [Phasha] was doing the handover, we told him to go back and tell them we don’t want regravelling; we want a tarred road. He went back, and later, we realized they were not coming back to us and had started buying some people to divide us. I then wrote a letter to the MEC.”
Machethe said RAL invited the task team to a meeting in Polokwane on October 25 where they listened to their grievances. He added that the task team presented a proposal for RAL to find more money to tar the road and for them to call out Ndhuna for allegedly buying some residents to divide the communities.
“The contractor [Ndhuna] is the one who is trying to divide us. He knows he is staring at easy money, and so he is infiltrating us. Even at Ga-Mokgwathi, he tried to infiltrate the community. But we silenced them. We told the MEC and the director to warn Ndhuna that he would be in trouble if he continued trying to divide us. They spoke to him, and now, seemingly, he is quiet,” he stressed.
In a letter to Machethe, dated October 20, Rakgoale’s office invited the task team to a meeting at RAL’s offices in Polokwane on October 25.
“Following our letter dated 22 September 2023 acknowledging receipt of your letter requesting a meeting concerning D3187 (Bemuda Road) on the 24th September 2023, the office is inviting you to a meeting,” wrote Japhter Lebese, from Rakgoale’s community outreach and legislature support division.
Machethe said RAL postponed a meeting scheduled for November 16, citing other commitments.
“But in my view, I think they are avoiding the issues,” he said.
“We said they must go [and] look for a budget and add to that R8 million. And we said that R8 million must be put aside and not be taken elsewhere.”
Ga-Mokgwathi resident Reckson Nukeri, 66, who attended a community meeting to discuss Ndhuna’s project, said they resolved against re-gravelling because it served no purpose. He said the rain washed away the soil dumped onto the road, creating big holes and forcing residents to fill them before their cars could use it again.
“It is not the first time they put soil on the road, and it doesn’t help at all. They will put soil, take R8 million and then what? It’s us who remain behind, struggling with bad roads. It would be better for them to use that R8 million to erect a tarred road to a point where their budget allows. They will add another portion in future until they complete the road.”
“They said one kilometre costs them R15 million. We said, well, if that’s the case, leave the road as it is because what you are trying to do only adds misery to our lives. That was our agreement in a meeting held at the tribal authority,” Nukeri said.
He added: “The problem is that when we allow them to re-gravel, they start saying the road is okay and the people are happy. Then they forget about us. Before leaving, they said they wanted a letter confirming that the Ga-Mokgwathi community does not want re-gravelling. Mr [Ngoako] Mohale [the headman] gave it to them as per the resolution of the community.”
Approached for comment, Matsuvuki said he had nothing to do with the R8 million Mokgwathi-Dzumeri project.
“That project belongs to Bex Construction. I am not appointed on that project. If it’s me, I was going to tell you why. I know about that project because the community wants a tarred road, and the guy was appointed for re-gravelling. That’s what he told me. I know about the project you are talking about, but it has nothing to do with me,” said Matsuvuki.
RAL spokesperson Maropeng Manyathela did not respond to questions sent on Friday, November 17.