Woman is ripped off in tender scam

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

A Limpopo woman who was awarded a fraudulent R96000 catering tender, said she had felt like committing suicide.

Mello said she had bought stock for R20000 to cater for a function at Phokwane, in Nebo, near Jane Furse.

"I took a loan to buy the stock, thinking that I would pay back the loan once I received payment from the department," said Mello.

Rosemary Mello, 29, said: "I feel like committing suicide if I start thinking of the loss I incurred as a result of what transpired."

The department of agriculture, from where the tender allegedly originated, said they knew nothing about the catering deal.

Mello's problems started when she received a call on March 31 from a person who identified himself as an official of the department.

He told Mello that she had won the tender to cater for the function .

The function for at least 200 people was scheduled to take place yesterday and today.

Mello subsequently received a fax from the official requesting her to fax a quotation and a tax clearance certificate for the purposes of payment.

The fax number does not belong to the department, but the letter Mello received bears the department's logo.

Also, the signatures and the names of the alleged officials are not known to the department.

She said she was very worried that the stock would rot.

Mello said she tried everything in her power to try and convince the department to pay her the money, but did not succeed.

Department spokesperson Thembi Makhuvele confirmed that they were aware of a scam, where unknown people would defraud unsuspecting people by pretending to be departmental officials.

"Mello was not the only one who lost out in this way.

"In fact, there is another woman who shared the same order number with her," said Makhuvele.

Makhuvele said they were publishing an advert to warn suppliers to verify the names of people who were asking for quotations "before they too become victims of the scam".