/ 28 September 2001

Telkom severs ties with Royal Security

Mungo Soggot and Stefaans Brmmer

Telkom has stepped up its purge of its security network, cancelling its contract with Royal Security, the company at the centre of a long-running investigation, and axing two more managers.

The investigation initially targeted the parastatal’s former deputy chief operating officer, Bheki Langa, who resigned in July ahead of a disciplinary inquiry linked to, among other things, his handling of the Royal contract.

Telkom spokesperson Amanda Singleton said this week that Royal’s contract has been terminated with immediate effect after Telkom investigators found it had received “undue payments”.

Singleton says the Telkom manager in Kwazulu-Natal who made the payments has since been dismissed after a disciplinary inquiry, adding that another Telkom manager was dismissed earlier this month after being caught by the same investigation.

Royal had contracts from Telkom mainly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. In addition to its problems with Telkom, Royal Security faces several violations of the security officers’ board’s code.

The company’s duties with Telkom include reacting to cable theft alarms. Cable theft is one of Telkom’s biggest bugbears.

Until March this year, Langa’s duties included overseeing Telkom’s security and investigations division.

Langa stood accused of colluding with Royal Security and using his position to favour it. He also faced allegations of compromising Telkom security and making it more difficult to monitor the performance of security companies.

Langa has dismissed the allegations as having “no basis in fact”. At the time of his resignation he said he had decided to throw in the towel anyway to become head of a new state oil operation, Petrosa, and that his resignation had nothing to do with the allegations.

The Department of Minerals and Energy Affairs, however, has since said his appointment is on hold pending the outcome of the Telkom probe, which Telkom said this week is still continuing.

Langa resigned the day the Mail & Guardian published an article about the investigation into him.

The head of Royal Security, Roy Moodley, originally dismissed the allegations, saying his company and Langa are the victims of a “racist plot. The whites … can’t stand to see a black man coming up.”

Moodley said this week Royal was given no reasons for the cancellation and is “taking legal advice”.