Cofimvaba toilet tender probed, after UDM call

HAWKS INVESTIGATING: UDM president Bantu Holomisa called on the Hawks to investigate a tender process involving the alleged dumping of concrete panels in villages of Cofimvaba. The material meant to build prefabricated toilets was allegedly manufactured by Izwelethu Cemforce Picture: SUPPLIED

The Hawks have confirmed that they are investigating allegations of prefabricated toilet material manufactured by Izwelethu Cemforce which was reportedly left unaccounted for in villages at Cofimvaba.

This after UDM president Bantu Holomisa questioned the tender process and called on the investigation of the ‘dumped’ concrete panels in Wodehouse, Magwala and Isikhoba villages. In his statement Holomisa said the material was meant for the construction of toilets for the communities in that area since May, indicating that the Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) had allegedly paid R20 million to the company in June without any clarity of what the amount was for.

“There are serious allegations that Izwelethu Cemforce has been awarded a contract to supply these – now wasted – prefabricated toilets to CHDM after ANC councillors spent time hunting on Mr Diedericks’s farm. In particular ANC Chris Hani regional secretary Lusanda Sizani was photographed with a dead wildebeest,” read the statement.

Hawks spokesperson captain Yolisa Mgolodela said, recently, that the matter had been brought to their attention for investigation. “The matter has been with us and we are looking into it.”

A community member who spoke to The Rep on condition of anonymity said a contractor had not been appointed to proceed with the construction processes. “No work has been done yet. Material is scattered and lying on the street – damaged – without any explanation or clarity. We do not know when these toilets will be constructed because the people living in this community are desperate for proper toilets.”

Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) spokesperson Bulelwa Ganyaza responded by confirming the delivery of ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine top structure material to ward 15 in Cofimvaba for the implementation of a sanitation project. “The units were stored on site (with beneficiaries) in four villages – Luxhomo, Matshona, Upper Wodehouse and Isikhoba. Beneficiaries of the VIP toilets were first and foremost identified by the community itself, with village coordinators also nominated by identified villages to administer receipt of material as per terms agreed and project outline on how the project will be implemented.”

Ganyaza stated that a service provider was appointed in December 2020 on a three-year contract for the supply and delivery of precast toilets, following a competitive bidding process. “The sanitation project was divided into two contracts for the supply and delivery of precast toilets and the erection of precast toilets. A total of 2314 panels were ordered, delivered and stored on site for assembling for the identified areas. The assembling of the structures, which is labour intensive, will be the responsibility of small, medium and micro enterprises. The process is underway and will be done in accordance with Covid-19 health and safety regulations,” she said.

Ganyaza stated that mayor Wongama Gela had conducted the introduction and hand over of the project to the community in April prior the delivery of any structures. “CHDM also wishes to confirm that it has, to date, paid R24 million to Izwelethu Cemforce for services rendered – the already supplied and delivered units. This is contrary to the statement by Mr Holomisa that the units were dumped without explanation. With any delivery of material, damages incurred in transit remain the liability of the service provider, not the municipality.”

Providing background to the sanitation project Ganyaza highlighted CHDM’s integrated development plan for the 2020-2021 financial which showed that “households totalling 88 700 use flush toilets (38.58% of total households), 75 705 (32.92%) ventilation improved pit (VIP) and 30 232 (13.15%) pit toilets. By 2017 the sanitation backlog dropped from 116 000 to 65 500 households. The highest backlog of 11 400 households is in Intsika Yethu Local Municipality alone. This project is intended to address the district-wide sanitation backlog and continues to benefit communities, with several job opportunities created in different areas.”

Meanwhile, Chris Hani ANC regional secretary Lusanda Sizani cited the allegation as mere propaganda from the opposition party member. On the hunting allegations made against him, he said: “As emerging farmers aspire to be commercial farmers, we visit farms to learn and understand more about farming.

“We were on a hunting trip at the farm. We learnt that the farm is 12 000 hectares and wanted to learn more and understand farming better, as we used to visit many farmers not mentioned in the correspondence.”

He appealed to people to get facts straight before levelling allegations against the ANC and councillors, adding that they were entitled to their private life.

“We know the opposition will use everything in their power to destroy and defocus the ANC leadership. We are firm and resolute in our actions and no amount of propaganda will defocus us.”

Independent Komani Residents’ Association (iKora) chairman Xolani Ngxatu had stated in a press statement that they were deeply perturbed by the allegations against the ANC regional secretary’s involvement in manipulation of tenders in CHDM.

Ngxatu said it was particularly disturbing that Sizani was part of a group of CHDM councillors who had gone on a hunting trip at Izwelethu Cemforce’s farm. He said the farm belonged to the owner of a service provider who got paid R20m from the municipality under mysterious circumstances.

”This affair has the smelly stench of a corrupt relationship. We call on law enforcement agencies to investigate these events and bring to book anyone found guilty of malfeasance.

“It is under these mysterious circumstances that an amount of R1.4 billion disappeared without a trace, with no one held to account. We wish the same confiscation approach which is implemented in these two provinces (Gauteng and KZN) can uniformly apply in all government institutions, especially in Chris Hani District Municipality.”

He added that large sums of money were looted year in and out and they wanted those responsible to be arrested.

”CHDM is one of the poorest municipalities with underdeveloped infrastructure, poor service delivery, a high rate of unemployment at 34.4% exceeding the national unemployment rate of 27.4%.These funds belong to the public. The stealing is directly from the public and the rule of law must take its course.” said Ngxatu

However Ganyaza responded by stating that the district municipality viewed the utterances made by iKora on alleged manipulation of tenders within the district municipality in a very serious light and as extremely disturbing.

“For the record, any allegations that tender processes are “being manipulated” are misleading, incorrect and a clear misrepresentation of facts. The issue of R1.4 billion as raised in the iKora statement, was accounted for and addressed through appropriate council processes. The amount, refers to various grants allocated and the municipality rejects claims that these funds mysteriously disappeared,” she said.

Numerous attempts to reach Izwelethu Cemforce boss Wicus Diedericks were unsuccessful.

By Zintle Bobelo and Abongile Solundwana