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R85m Umgeni Water tender back in court

An R85-million a year security contract for five years at Umgeni Water Amanzi — which was set aside by the courts last year — is again being contested in court.

Reshebile Aviation and Protection Services, whose security contract with Umgeni was set aside over flawed procurement process and was re-advertised, has gone to the high court to challenge the awarding of the tender to Tactical Security Solutions.

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The contract, awarded to Reshebile Aviation in 2018, was successfully challenged last year by Excellerate Services, which had previously provided Umgeni with security services on a three-year contract since 2014.

The tender was re-advertised, with Reshebile Aviation remaining on site until a new service provider was appointed, in terms of the court order, which gave Umgeni 10 months to do so.

Reshebile Aviation, founded in 2001, has long-standing links with the governing ANC, with its directors including veteran Gertrude Shope and Paul Langa.

Tactical Security Solutions, founded in 2009, is linked with Adriaan Snyman, the controversial bodyguard of Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, who is on trial with him on firearms charges. 

Snyman became a director of Tactical Security Solutions in May 2011, along with Thami Mdluli, but resigned as a director in August that year. Its founders, Janet Hart and Janine Snyman, resigned as directors in mid-2011. Mdluli is now Tactical Security Solutions’ sole director.

Adriaan Snyman is, however, still active with the company, which lists his cellphone number among its contract details.

At the end of August, when Tactical Security Solutions was appointed, Reshebile Aviation approached the high court for an urgent interdict to try to stop the award pending the outcome of a review application into the tender that it has brought.

The interdict was unsuccessful and Tactical Security Solutions’ guards moved to Umgeni’s sites around KwaZulu-Natal, a number of which have national key point status because of their critical nature.

Reshebile Aviation has claimed in court papers that Umgeni and Tactical Security Solutions had refused to hand over documentation from Tactical’s successful bid, which were central to the success of its review application.

Reshebile director DIkgang Moopeloa said in his founding affidavit that they also wanted the court to order Umgeni to hand over “essential documents related to the decision to award the tender”, which the water board had refused to make available.

Reshebile Aviation, which was national key point accredited, had, during its two years servicing Umgeni, provided consultancy services, which resulted in several of the board’s sites being NKP accredited.

“This ultimately led to the tender being issued, which included a requirement to have “NKP registration which is obtainable from the SAPS,” he said.

Moopeloa said the tender stated that a tenderer who did not have, among other things, a KPA certificate to guard a national key point, would not have their bids considered.

Tactical Security Solutions, he said, did not have a KPA certificate at the time its bid was considered.

Moopeloa said Reshebile Aviation and 35 other bidders had been disqualified because some of their members did not have Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) certificates. This was done despite Umgeni knowing that PSIRA was unable to print certificates because the Government Printing Works, its sole supplier, did not have stock. 

Reshebile Aviation had also tendered at R85-million, which was R2-million cheaper than Tactical Security Solutions, he said.

Moopeloa said Reshebile Aviation had lodged an appeal, but that the documents necessary to do so had been withheld by Umgeni and Tactical Security Solutions, a move it regarded as “suspicious”.

Umgeni had gone ahead on 31 August with the tender award to Tactical Security Solutions, which had no NKP experience, despite being told in writing that Reshebile Aviation applied for an urgent interdict and a review of the award.

Moopeloa said Reshebile Aviation had been guarding 70 Umgeni sites for two years as part of the R85-million contract. It would “never be able to restore the loss of income” and its business would suffer “grave harm”, which would result in retrenchments if it were not allowed to challenge the award.

In her responding affidavit, Umgeni acting chief executive Nomalungelo Mkhize said Reshebile Aviation had failed to disclose in its application that its tender with Umgeni had been set aside by the courts in July last year.

Mkhize said Reshebile Aviation had no right to the interdict and was basing its review application on “speculation” and “innuendo”.

The complaint about Tactical Security Solutions’ NKP registration was “meritless and ironic” and a “red herring”, Mkize said.

Snyman told Mail & Guardian that the company was opposing the application by Reshebile Aviation but declined to comment further.

Reshebile Aviation spokesperson Khulekani Mbutho declined to comment.

The contract is not the only major tender awarded by Umgeni that is subject to a legal challenge.

Last month MPS Strategic Solutions, a company owned by murdered IT tenderpreneur Sibonelo Shinga, went to the high court to stop Umgeni from terminating a R138-million contract awarded to it and Raminet Technologies, another Shinga company, by the entity, allegedly by unlawful means.

Shinga’s companies were at the centre of an internal forensic investigation by Umgeni and were among those blacklisted over the involvement in the EoH corruption scandal.

Whistleblowers had claimed that Shinga was at the centre of a corruption network, along with former Umgeni chief executive Thami Hlongwa, who resigned shortly before the forensic report was tabled with the Umgeni board.

Umgeni, which is the subject of two inquiries by the Special Investigating Unit, then began a process to terminate the contracts awarded to Raminet and MPS, which have a collective value of R138-million.

Hlongwa has gone to ground since the murder of Shinga in January, for which nobody has been arrested.

The standing of Umgeni’s acting board, appointed in 2018 by former water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu during her tenure, has also been challenged in court by a number of its former members. 

Umgeni spokesperson Shami Harichunder said Umgeni would “protect its right” to award the tender, which had been granted through due process. He said Tactical Security Solutions had performed the best among the applicants for the tender and had been brought on site at the end of August to meet the conditions imposed on Umgeni by the court order secured by Excellerate.

Harichunder said Umgeni had been unable to make Tactical Security Solutions’ bid document available to Reshebile Aviation because it contained documents that “represent trade related matters of a confidential nature.”

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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