Sassa security tender headed to court

A three-year R181-million security contract awarded by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) late last year appears to be headed to the courts because of concerns by an unsuccessful bidder over the tender award process.

Four tenders for guarding Sassa facilities in Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Midlands and Ulundi districts were advertised by Sassa last October, with the successful bidder to be appointed to start work on 1 January 2022, subject to securing clearance through a vetting process by state security.

An erratum was issued for the Durban district tender, valued at R56-million a year.

According to Sassa, the process was concluded during December, with the details of the successful service providers being published on 22 December. The companies, all of which had employed sub-contractors to do the on-site work, were told to start work on 1 January. 

But lawyers for one of the companies that bid for the tenders, Ngoza Protection Services, have written to Sassa querying the award process and the lack of an objection window for unsuccessful bidders to lodge their grievances.

According to correspondence seen by the Mail & Guardian, the companies — Thabzo Security Services, Tyeks Security Services, Mabotwane Security Services and Reshebile Aviation and Protection Services — were sent letters of appointment on 16 December.

Although the companies were only meant to have started work on site on 1 January this year, emails from Sassa to them showed that their guards had already turned up for work as early as 24 December last year.

In an email, Sassa official Sophie Zwane wrote to the four companies complaining that they were “causing disruptions” on site and reminding them that the existing service provider’s contract was valid until 31 December last year. “Please stop this action as it will disrupt the services and the smooth transition,” Zwane wrote.

Last week, lawyers for Isulabasha t/a Ngoza Protection Services, which had also bid for the contract, wrote to Sassa requesting clarity regarding the award process.

In a letter to Sassa’s regional management, lawyer Nokophiwa Duma said their client had complied with all of the terms and conditions of the tender bid timeously, but had received no notification as to the fate of the bid.

Duma said Isulabasha t/a Ngoza Protection Services was “perturbed” that there had been no communication from Sassa regarding the outcome of the bidding process and to whom the tender had been awarded.

“[The] Client has scanned the government tender bulletin since the closure of the tender advertisement, for any indication of intention to award or being labelled unsuccessful for the above bid,” Duma said.

Duma requested confirmation, within three days, that the tender had been awarded and, if so, details of which tender bulletin had published the intention to award and the notification to unsuccessful bidders.

In response to questions from the M&G, Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said on 22  December last year that the award process had not been concluded, but that the successful bidder would be advertised on the national treasury tender publication portal and tender bulletin in terms of national treasury note 1 of 2015-16.

The award would also be published on the Sassa website.

But last week Letsatsi said the names of the successful bidders had been published on the Sassa website on 22 December last year in line with Supply Chain Management instruction note 1 of 2021-22.

Letsatsi said that Sassa as a national entity did not fall under the jurisdiction of the KwaZulu-Natal bids appeal tribunal, which could only hear appeals regarding provincial government departments, their entities and municipalities.

Letsatsi said the 2015-16 treasury note that allowed for the publication of the awards was “not to provide service providers a window for objections, rather to improve compliance, monitoring and transparency.”

“Any unsuccessful service provider who is aggrieved by the decision not to be awarded can challenge the awarding of the bid if it so wishes using available means, which include approaching the courts to set aside the validity of the contract,” Letsatsi said.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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