Prisons catering deal row deepens

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

Parliament's powerful standing committee on public accounts has added its voice to calls for Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour to come clean about the prisons department's R200million-a-year contract with private catering company Bosasa.

Balfour extended Bosasa's contract when it expired about three months ago in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act. It is the second time the contract has been extended without being re-advertised.

The Democratic Alliance said the Act did not allow for any government contract to be increased by more than 20 percent of the original contract price.

The DA's James Selfe also said that the actual cost of Bosasa's contract was over R82million more than what was agreed.

Last week, the ethics committee accepted Balfour's explanation that his Taureg 4x4 was not a gift from Bosasa.

Yesterday, public accounts committee Scopa slammed prison bosses for allowing Bosasa to donate a vegetable processing plant worth R812000 to the Department of Correctional Services.

Scopa chairman Themba Godi asked: "To what extent was the extension of the contract influenced by these things?"

Correctional Services acting chief financial officer Emma Mareka was unable to answer.

Yesterday, the DA lodged a submission with the special investigations unit, which is probing the contract, alleging that Bosasa was chosen over Sechaba, which had put in a lower bid.