Shabangu challenges protector on lease findings

Businessman Roux Shabangu has challenged Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s probe into a lease agreement for police headquarters in Pretoria between his company and the public works department.

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In a letter sent to Madonsela on November22, Shabangu said Roux Property Fund had come across 194 lease agreements in Pretoria between the department and other companies which were concluded without a tender process.

This was the same process followed with the police headquarters in the Pretoria Middestad, he said.

“We are aware of leases which were concluded where no tender process was followed,” Shabangu said in the letter.

“... It is evident that the procurement process followed for the Middestad lease was in accordance with common practice within the DPW [department of public works].”

According to Shabangu, 73% of all lease agreements concluded by the department in Pretoria were through the negotiated bid process and not through tenders.

In October, Madonsela found that the procurement of two leases for new police headquarters in Pretoria and Durban, involving Shabangu, were unlawful and that they amounted to maladministration.

The leases were worth R1.6 billion.

Investigation
Following the report, President Jacob Zuma suspended national police commissioner Bheki Cele.

On Tuesday, Madonsela’s spokeswoman Kgalalelo Masibi confirmed that the public protector had received Shabangu’s letter.
In his letter, Shabangu asked Madonsela to investigate all the leases which were concluded using the negotiated bid process following the same procedure used to investigate the lease with Roux Property Fund.

“...
The public protector must then also suspend all such leases pending the finalisation of such investigation,” said Shabangu.

He said an example of one of these buildings was the Eikendal building in Tulbagh Park office complex in Church Street, Pretoria.

Shabangu also challenged Madonsela on her finding that the Middestad lease was not cost effective and that it was above the prevalent market rate for office accommodation in the CBD.

“We have ascertained that there are numerous buildings in respect of which a much higher rental is apparently being paid by DPW,” said Shabangu.

Examples were the Travenna Campus, which had a five-year lease with a rental of R165 per square metre, and the DTI building, which was R450 per square metre.

The rental for the Middestad Centre was R110 per square metre, he said.

“It is imperative that a proper investigation be effected by your office so as to ensure that justice and consistent action take place, and be effected,” Shabangu said.—Sapa

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