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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Rooiwal tender award: Tshwane officials absolved in Edwin Sodi’s company progression

Tshwane disagrees with the outcome of the disciplinary process and will appeal the entire outcome of the disciplinary process at the Labour Court.

The City of Tshwane has placed five senior officials on precautionary suspension for the controversial Rooiwal tender award.

This follows a year-long internal disciplinary process, which found them guilty on one of the four charges they faced.

WATCH: No more contracts with state capture-implicated people at Rooiwal, says Tshwane mayor

On Wednesday, the City issued the five officials with an intended letter of suspension and afforded them the opportunity to make representations on why they shouldn’t be suspended.

On Friday, the final decision to place them on precautionary suspension with full pay was taken.

The officials were found not guilty on three charges, but were found guilty on charge and the sanction was suspension for one month without pay.

However, Tshwane disagrees with the outcome of the disciplinary process and will appeal the entire outcome of the disciplinary process at the Labour Court.

“The City is of the view that, their continued presence at the workplace, will be detrimental to the stability of the municipality,” said spokesperson Selby Bokaba.

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“The officials were charged for being grossly negligent and/derelict in the performance of their duties and that their conduct subsequently led to a breach of various legislation, policies and codes of conduct.”

The charges they faced:

  • Allowing Blackhead Consulting to progress to the next stage of the evaluation without being registered with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and also without having the required CIDB 9CE or 9ME.
  • Consensus-based decision making instead of evaluating independently as members of Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC).
  • Inclusion of Blackhead Consulting services to render professional services in the circumstances where the city had already appointed a company to render professional services. Consequently, the city incurred costs of almost R11 million.
  • Evaluating the winning bidder on 1.4m belt presses width when the specification required 2m width.

“The officials were not found guilty on the first three charges but were found guilty on the fourth charge and the disciplinary board chairperson recommended a sanction of suspension for one month without pay,” said Bokaba.

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“The city was disappointed and disagreed with the findings of the chairperson and sought legal opinion on the matter. The legal opinion suggested that the five implicated officials ought to have been dismissed on the finding of guilt of charge 4 by the Chairperson, in line with section 14A of the Code of Conduct, and Clause 2.7.6 and/or Clause 2.70.10 of the Collective Agreement.”

Tshwane manager Johann Mettler decided to suspend the employees on full pay, pending a review of the ruling, in light of the nature and severity of the charges, together with the fact that the trust relationship has broken down irretrievably.

“The officials are senior employees of the municipality and majority of them on the BEC are engineers and ought to have applied themselves properly when evaluating the tender regarding the belt pressers,” Mettler said.

Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works

Rooiwal made headlines last year after a cholera outbreak which killed 23 people at Hammanskraal, with controversial businessman Edwin Sodi’s R295-million tender contract to upgrade the plant’s infrastructure being scrutinised.

At the time, the Department of Water and Sanitation found “the failure of the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works to meet the desirable final effluent quality for discharge to the Apies River, which in turn, flows into the Leeukraal Dam”, played a critical role in the Hammanskraal water crisis.

The SIU has since been investigating the refurbishment and upgrade project, of which only 60% of the first phase was completed before it was abandoned in 2020. 

The project continues, with Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink last week saying not repeating past mistakes was something they would prioritise.

ALSO READ: Hammanskraal cholera: Edwin Sodi’s R295m Rooiwal tender… where did the money go?

This includes avoiding contracts with compromised individuals.

“Upgrading Rooiwal is for the longer term. What we want to avoid are some of the mistakes that were made in the past with compromised contracts with people implicated in state capture becoming involved. That is our main project, to ensure that it doesn’t happen at Rooiwal,” said Brink.