Cape Town ordered to reverse deal

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The City of Cape Town has been found to have awarded a lucrative CCTV contract to the wrong company, following a set of tender application forms that were so confusing that two applicants had no idea how to fill them in correctly.

Public Discipline and Integration of Technology Cape Town (PDIT) took the municipality and its rival company, Caddic Security System and Integration, to the Western Cape High Court early in September to try to set aside the awarding of a tender for the maintenance of the city's surveillance systems.

PDIT claimed the municipality had failed to give the company enough notice to appeal the tender award when it was first granted, and that the bidding document was ambiguous, leading to PDIT ticking a box that was unclear, thereby accidentally robbing it of well-earned BEE (broad-based economic empower) points.

PDIT had already been awarded the previous three-year contract in 2015, although Caddic had also been a service provider to the city in earlier years. However, both companies applied for the 2018 tender, with Caddic ultimately coming out on top.

PDIT had scored 80, but the company claimed that, had the forms not been confusing regarding its BEE preference points, it would have scored a 100/100, higher than Caddic's 93.65.

In his ruling, judge Owen Rogers explained how PDIT had approached the city when it found out its tender application had been unsuccessful.

The company had tried to send a letter of appeal to the city manager, trying to explain the situation and point out that its service prices were allegedly lower than Caddic's. Following an independent investigation, a report showed that there was merit to PDIT's objection.

And the city's response did not impress Rogers, who described it as purposefully obscure or ambiguous.

"An unclear document has the potential to deprive the public authority of a bid which would have been the most favourable had the document not misled the bidders," he ruled. He was also adamant that the municipality was aware that PDIT had simply made an error based on the tender document's ambiguity. Because of this, he ordered that the city's decision to award Caddic the tender be reversed, and be granted to PDIT.

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