It's D-Day for Omega's bid
THE Pretoria high court will decide today whether or not the City of Tshwane erred in not awarding Omega Risk Solutions a R122 million closed circuit television tender
The company's chief executive Alex de Witt is known to have owned the plush house that the late controversial businessman Sandile Majali claimed as his own.
Majali, who was found dead in his room at a Sandton hotel last December, had a relationship with Omega dating back to 2004.
But Omega's dalliance with controversy does not start and end with Majali. Giants in the CCTV industry, they are also known to operate in the world's hotspots like Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo, offering services as private military operatives, a euphemism, really, for mercenaries.
By October 10 2010, South Africa had already lost 38 men in Iraq - the third highest number of private military contractors. Many of these men, like Francois Strydom, Johan Botha and Louis Campher, were on Omega's payroll.
The office of the Public Protector has now stepped into the fray, asking the City of Tshwane how Omega - given its history - could even have been considered for the tender.
In his letter to the city fathers in Tshwane, Themba Mthethwa, chief executive of the Public Protector, says his office has received a complaint against Omega.
"We are aware of the fact that the tender is the subject matter of review proceedings in court soon and that the tender is also the subject of an investigation by the Special Investigations Unit."
Among the allegations against Omega is that during 2006 employees of the company were arrested in the DRC on suspicion of plotting a coup.
With the alleged mercenary activity in the DRC, Omega's men were released and the company quashed reports linking them to such dirty work.
"There were allegations made that the company was involved in a coup d'etat in São Tomé and Principe and involved members of the old SADF," Mthethwa says.
Many of Omega's top brass were soldiers in the apartheid regime.
The head honcho, De Witt, is himself a former SADF colonel.
The black guy who sits on their board, Daniel Lengoasane, who promised to give the company's side of the story - to no avail - was previously head of security in the presidency of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.
At the time of going to print, Lengoasane had still not responded to our questions.
When apartheid fell, many of these former SADF men sold their skills throughout the world as private military contractors.
The Public Protector's letter says "allegations were also made that the group arrested in Zimbabwe en route to Equatorial Guinea on an alleged coup plot included employees of the company".
Mthethwa's letter then says: "The complainant then concluded that on the strength of these allegations the company should not have been considered as a preferred bidder if principles of good governance were adhered to."
In our earlier report on the company, we said that in 2009 The Herald reported that the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality had decided to terminate the contract of Omega Risk Solutions to monitor the CCTV cameras in the CBD with effect from December of that year.
But they are still contracted to do the same for the City of Johannesburg.
This is the same contract about which one of their bosses famously bragged they had provided at "double the size of the previous CCTV system, but is only at 75percent of the cost of the previous system".
By close of business today the Pretoria high court would have decided on the merits of Case No 27707/2010, to see if Omega is fit to closely monitor the City of Tshwane.
The Public Protector asks the municipality to explain "the policies in place at the City of Tshwane to ensure that all bidders are scrutinised to ensure their 'good faith' and also the process followed during the short-listing of the preferred bidders".
While their work in the areas they have policed had helped to drastically reduce crime, a hard-hitting forensic report from Gobodo had said Omega's bid for the Tshwane job was rejected because "it did not comply with tender conditions and misrepresented facts to influence the awarding of the tender".