Justice Department's security deal comes under fire

Justice minister Michael Masutha.
Justice minister Michael Masutha.
Image: Trevor Samson

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has come under criticism for the slow progress of transformation in its procurement services.

The criticism comes after the department, led by minister Michael Masutha, allegedly awarded Fidelity Security Group , "evergreen contracts" to guard its premises since 2005.

The department has also been accused of implementing sectoral regulated Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (Psira) rates when procuring services from companies and this hit their bottom line.

The department was thrust into the spotlight recently when two of its employees referred to a black colleague as a baboon and a monkey.

The allegations of lack of transformation were made by a senior official who didn't not want to be identified for fear of victimisation.

"This is so worrisome that after 23 years of democracy we are still not transformed when it comes to procurement of services. The minister must intervene because this company has captured our department. Why do we have one company doing business with the department for so long while other companies come and go? Over a decade of unbroken services?"

The official also said the department was financially crippling other companies as it doesn't pay them the maximum service fees regulated by Psira.

"For instance, if the maximum amount per guard is R10 and the minimum is R7, they will pay you R7."

Sowetan understands that six companies, including Fidelity Security Group, are rendering services and their contracts expire towards the end of next year.

However, department spokesman Steve Mahlangu said the department follows an open and transparent bid process wherein all bidders are given a fair and equal opportunity to tender.

"The department has constantly applied the transformational initiatives within the prescripts as communicated by the National Treasury in accordance with government procurement processes." he said.

Mahlangu defended the decision to award tenders to Fidelity Security Group.

"The bid adjudication process is subjected to an audit by both the internal auditors and the auditor-general. Bids are awarded in compliance with the preferential procurement policy framework regulations."

Wahl Bartmann, Fidelity Security Group's chief executive, said subsidiary Fidelity Security Services has had various contracts with the department since 2005.

"Where we have been successful it is because we have been 100% compliant with the tender requirements," he said.

"It is important to note that we have not been successful in winning the tenders consistently for all areas every time . [and] these contracts have varied materially over the years.

"We have been awarded many of the contracts in very remote areas that have been quite difficult to service.

"However, due to our national footprint we have serviced these contracts with success," Bartmann said.

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