Officials in the South African Police Service (SAPS) allegedly intentionally waited for the last minute to secure accommodation for members in order to avoid following proper procurement processes in the awarding of multimillion-rand tenders, the commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Monday.
“This is accommodation for an event that South Africa knew about for years. I mean, stadiums were built, but the police could only secure accommodation about a month before,” forensic auditor Trevor White told the commission, which has placed a lens on the alleged capture of law enforcement agencies.
“You cannot use bad planning as a justification for emergency procurement,” he added.
White was referring to accommodation tenders worth R60m that were all awarded to controversial businessman Thoshan Panday during the 2010 World Cup by the KwaZulu-Natal SAPS supply chain management.
‘Did not make sense’
He further told the Zondo commission that the motivations behind the emergency procurement requests “did not make any sense”.
“In leading up to the World Cup, they justified it as an emergency and therefore they only got one quote with motivations. If you look at the motivations critically, they never made sense.
“For a training event in Marianhill just outside of Durban for example – that accommodation was only booked at the very last moment on the Friday before the Sunday that members had to be booked in. But that was poor planning or it was done intentionally to give it to Gold Coast at the last minute,” White explained.
Another example provided by the witness involved the Durban-based Coastlands Hotel group which had sent a quote to the SAPS for accommodation in April/May of 2010 at R400 per person a night.
However, when the police made an order to the hotel group, it was for a “significantly lower number of rooms” while the majority of the accommodation was supplied by Panday’s Gold Coast Trading.
“Gold Coast was quoting R850 per person a night, and the Coastlands Hotel was one of the suppliers Panday used to supply him to supply the police – he then negotiated a rate of R350 per person sharing with the hotel and then billed the police R900 per person a night. That is more than double the cost.
“The police could have done the negotiations for R350 per person [directly with the hotel]. Chair, we are talking about thousands of nights here,” White explained.
White further showed how Gold Coast would inflate the price of the accommodation as well as the number of rooms, nights and even the number of members.
“Sometimes they billed for rooms that did not even exist; the quotes were for rooms that exceeded the size of the establishment,” White explained.
Panday’s companies eventually raked in R47m from the SAPS between November 2009 and August 2010, according to White.
The inquiry continues.