Meant to halt crime, are security fences themselves criminal?
A plan to erect security fences at two Cape harbours has been canned owing to highly irregular procurement process
A R44-million state contract to build two security fences at two Cape Town fishing harbours has been scrapped owing to tender irregularities.
Instead of combating crime, the fences have become part of the problem, according to harbour stakeholders, who also question the cost of the project and why it was awarded to “outsiders”.
Meanwhile, Durban-based SA Fence & Gate, appointed to erect the fences at Hout Bay and Kalk Bay, said it was in the dark about what was happening. A container moved to one of the harbours in preparation for the work has been vandalised and become a refuge for vagrants.
Hout Bay is particularly hard hit by crime, with vessels regularly vandalised. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has battled to contain the problem because of budget constraints.SA Fence & Gate was appointed in December 2016 after a highly irregular Daff procurement process, according to documents seen by Times Select.
Several senior department officials are already subject to a separate Hawks investigation into an allegedly fraudulent contract with another service provider to process the state’s stockpile of confiscated abalone.
The common denominator in both cases is Daff’s Marine Living Resources Fund, which is rife with irregular expenditure, according to the office of the auditor-general.
The fund acts as Daff’s piggy bank, topped up mainly with proceeds from the sale of confiscated abalone and fines from non-compliant fishing companies.
The SA Fence & Gate contract was flagged as irregular last year by the National Treasury, which questioned the absence of a competitive bidding system, according to an auditor-general final management report. The report also confirms an investigation into financial misconduct.SA Fence & Gate said this week it had successfully bid for the tender after an invitation from Daff, which then supplied a letter of appointment. “We consequently proceeded to site. From our understanding the project could not proceed due to a pending review of the department’s procurement process,” the company said.
A separate internal audit report, commissioned by Daff and seen by Times Select, says:
• Only two quotes were received for the harbour security tender instead of the three required;
• A quotation was accepted despite non-compliance with specifications;
• Not all the standard bidding documents were supplied; and
• BBEEE points were awarded incorrectly with no supporting documentation.
SA Fence & Gate is part of the Sasstec group of companies, which has benefited from several large government tenders.
Two years ago, the chief procurement officer instructed the Correctional Services Department to cancel a tender of R378-million awarded to one of the group’s subsidiaries. At the time, CEO Geoffrey Greyling denied any business leverage due to the company’s membership of the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum.Times Select visited Kalk Bay and Hout Bay harbours, where the fences – or absence of them – is a big talking point.
Hout Bay harbourmaster Pumla Feni-Gela said the harbour was reeling from rampant crime, and confirmed she had accompanied SA Fence & Gate on a site inspection in preparation for the fence. Stakeholders at both harbours said they had not been informed why the project was on hold.
Daff director-general Mike Mlengana said he intervened to resolve the matter with chief financial officer Jacob Hlatshwayo and deputy director-general in charge of fisheries Siphokazi Ndudane.
“The contract was nullified by Siphokazi on the basis that she was unhappy with exactly the questions that you are asking as to why two quotations instead of three,” said Mlengana.
“It has now occurred with me that the communication between the DDG and CFO is not of good standard. It means that one of them or both of them is doing something that is not right, and I’m putting my finger as to what that thing is, I’m trying to find out. I don’t want to at this stage to begin to accuse people.”