R1bn tender

SUSPENDED Correctional Services chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham lived a life of luxury, expensive cars and overseas trips financed by a company that won multi-million rand contracts from the department.

The Bosasa group of companies - which has earned more than R1billion in prisons contracts - allegedly bribed Gillingham with R2,1million worth of cars, rugby tickets, an overseas trip, a new kitchen and house renovations.

The allegations against the company and Gillingham were made public yesterday by Special Investigations Unit head Willie Hofmeyr.

Hofmeyr revealed that Bosasa financed three cars for Gillingham, cars for his son and daughter and sponsored his daughter's overseas trip.

"The SIU found that Bosasa financed a car for the CFO, another car or a contribution to a car for the CFO, cars for his son and daughter, sponsorship of the daughter's trip overseas, another contribution to a car for Gillingham, and six Blue Bulls season tickets," Hofmeyr told Parliament yesterday.

The SIU report is a damning indictment for South Africa's High Commissioner to Botswana, Ngconde Balfour, who was minister of correctional services at the time.

Last year Balfour instructed Vernie Petersen, then director-general, to extend Bosasa's catering contract without putting it out to tender.

Petersen had refused, and also suspended Gillingham.

Shortly after Balfour did a shady "DG swap" that saw Petersen going to the sports department, and sports department's Xoliswa Sibeko moving to Correctional Services.

Sibeko was suspended in July this year for allegedly renting a house for R35000 a month, instead of staying in the prisons accommodation.

Nandi Mareka, the acting CFO who replaced Gillingham was also suspended, leading many to conclude that the department was rotten to the core.

Petersen suspended Gillingham last September after the SIU allegedly informed him about the allegations against the CFO.

For the past 14 months Gillingham has been sitting at home on full salary.

Bosasa also financed the development of a house for the CFO for more than R1million as well as renovating his kitchen for about R180000, Hofmeyr revealed.

"The company also contributed about R180000 towards a retirement home for the CFO," he said.

"We found three amounts totalling about R48000 to the CFO's credit card and we are satisfied that these payments came from the company."

In exchange for the alleged bribes, Gillingham allegedly rigged four tenders to advantage Bosasa.

The alleged tender rigging included having no proper financial planning, no feasibility studies and Bosasa itself participating in the drawing up of the tenders that it later won.

In one case, Bosasa allegedly registered a company just seven days before the closing of the bids and won tender - despite the requirements that the winning bidder should have five years experience.

In one contract, Bosasa was paid 90percent of the total contract price just to deliver "raw materials".

The former CFO's actions meant that government might face civil claims from companies which lost out on the tender process, Hofmeyr said.

Bosasa also allegedly made payments in 2005 and 2006 to the former Correctional Services director-general Linda Mti, now head of security for the 2010 World Cup.