Three officials at the office of the chief justice (OCJ) are alleged to have helped arrange a R225 million IT tender and then tendered their resignations simultaneously and became partners at the winning bidder.
Chief financial officer Casper Coetzer, former spokesperson and chief director of court administration Nathi Mncube and former case management director Yvonne van Niekerk resigned last month and served their last days on May 31.
On 1 June, they all began work as local partners to multinational media and technology organisation Thomson Reuters, which had been awarded the R225m, six-year contract by the OCJ, according to a Sunday Times report.
ZA Square Consulting, a local company, was contracted by Thomson Reuters after the latter won the contract. The contract relates to the national rollout of CaseLines, a digital case management and litigation system that allows for court documents to be filed digitally.
The OCJ initially took a decision to remove the middleman, previously Tirisan Tech Solutions, as a reseller of Thomson Reuters software locally. The office approached Thomson Reuters directly for the new contract, but installed a new middleman in ZA Square Consulting.
Mncube, Coetzer and Van Niekerk, who are now partners at ZA Square Consulting, are set to earn 30% of the value of the deal, or at least R67.5m, according to the newspaper.
Thompson Reuters told the Sunday Times that it initially had no intention of subcontracting, and that the OCJ informed it only in November last year – a few weeks before the contract was awarded – that a local partner was required.
It was established that ZA Square Consulting was registered on December 15, five days after the OCJ awarded the contract.
According to Mncube, he and his two colleagues did nothing wrong. He said the contract began on June 1, and their company, ZA Square Consulting, had not earned any income until May 31, when their employment at the OCJ ended, read the report.
The OCJ said it was taking legal advice on the matter.
“The OCJ can confirm that it was made aware of a subcontract between Thomson Reuters and the South African company in question (ZA Square Consulting).
“In addition, the OCJ can confirm that all the directors of the local company [Coetzer, Mncube and Van Niekerk] played a role in the process which led to the granting of an award by the OCJ to Thomson Reuters,” read the response.