Officials face 1 000 counts over security tender

More allegations of self-enrichment at the expense of taxpayers have surfaced in the Northern Cape following the arrests of four officials and a prominent businessperson in connection with a dodgy security tender.

The senior officials from the provincial department of public works and a business associate of the Northern Cape’s ANC chairperson, John Block, were charged on Thursday with more than 1 000 counts of fraud and corruption.

The charges relate to an alleged scam involving a tender to provide security services to government properties and rural schools.

The wide-ranging contract was awarded to Karibuni Security Services, whose director is Motsamai Rantho, Block’s associate and a former public servant.

Rantho allegedly charged the department about R40-million over a period of about 10 years, but it is alleged invoices were padded with ghost security guards.

Charges added
Northern Cape Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Olebogeng Tawana confirmed that the five were charged early on Thursday morning and appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court shortly afterwards. Tawana said charges of racketeering and money laundering could be added to the charge sheet.

The four, who were directors in the department -- Burt Barends, Ruth Palm, Bradley Slingers and Elias Selemela -- are understood to have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Block is not implicated in the allegations, because he resigned from his position as MEC of the department in 2003 amid separate corruption allegations, of which he was acquitted. His lawyers did not respond to questions about his relationship with Rantho.

A spokesperson for the department, Crystal Robertson, said the department of public works had no record of the original tender awarded to Karibuni, because it had been done by the now disbanded provincial tender board in 2003.

“Law enforcement agencies are still investigating the contract we had [with Karibuni],” she said.
“The department had no problem with the services rendered by Karibuni, but we were not satisfied with their actual management and invoicing.”

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