Kickbacks, colluders ‘secured tenders’

According to the charge sheet, kickbacks, colluders and strategically placed officials collectively explain Intaka’s success in winning tenders in the Northern Cape.

The accused are:

  • John Block, African National Congress (ANC) Northern Cape chairperson and the provincial minister for finance, economic development and tourism;
  • Gaston Savoi, director of Intaka Holdings;
  • Ron Geddes, engineer at Westpro Fluid Handling Systems;
  • Ansano Romani, engineer at Forgeweld Stainless;
  • Sanjay Mitha, former director of supply chain management in the Northern Cape health department;
  • Hamid Shabbir, former Kimberley Hospital chief executive, currently believed to be in Abu Dhabi;
  • Nelmari Oosthuizen, Shabbir’s former assistant;
  • Daniel Gaborone, Kimberley hospital financial manager;
  • Deon Madyo, former head of the Northern Cape health department;
  • Fernando Praderi, Intaka director.

What they are accused of
As in KwaZulu-Natal, the Northern Cape charges centre on Gaston Savoi and his company, Intaka, which allegedly won corrupt hospital deals in the province worth tens of millions of rands for the supply of water-purification plants and oxygen machines to hospitals.

According to a forensic investigation by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which was contracted by the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate Intaka, the company’s prices were inflated by up to 500%.

Intaka also allegedly paid “commissions” to strategically aligned people such as Block and Shabbir who facilitated the deals. Block became a director of Intaka Northern Cape in March 2005; at the time he was active in politics but held no government position.

The charge sheet alleges Block facilitated and hosted an introductory meeting between Savoi and the then head of the Northern Cape health department, Deon Madyo. Block’s “commission” from Intaka was allegedly R772 000.

Intaka also allegedly colluded with co-accused Ron Geddes, and Ansano Romani, engineers who, according to the PwC report, supplied quotes from competing companies that were higher than Intaka’s. PwC said Geddes and Romani’s quotes were fraudulent; and Madyo later started a company, Mapquest, which sold Intaka equipment to Limpopo.

Court papers suggest an investigation started when Intaka competitor Afrox Limited complained to the national treasury about a gas tender awarded to Intaka between 2005 and 2009.

A source, who was involved in the allocation of tenders to Intaka and wanted to remain anonymous, explained how tenders were awarded to Wataka, an affiliate company of Intaka. Municipalities can act autonomously when awarding a tender and no oversight from the provincial tender board is required.

According to the source, the key to manipulating the tenders allegedly lay in the specifications written into the tender advertisement.

These were divided into “standard specifications” and “alternative specifications”. “It is like when you want to buy a car,” the source said. “You have standard specifications and then you can get extras, like mag wheels. Those increase the value of the car but [are] not essential for the car to work. These are the alternative specifications.” The source said Intaka won the tender because it included alternative specifications that inflated the tender price.

Block admits in court papers that he was a consultant to Intaka during the time when the tenders were adjudicated and that the fees Intaka paid him were legitimate because he was not at that stage employed by the government.

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Mandy Rossouw
Guest Author
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