Hawks arrest 10 over R600m toilet tender in Eastern Cape
Ten people implicated in a dubious multimillion-rand toilet tender in the Eastern Cape were arrested in a dramatic predawn swoop across four provinces on Thursday.
The suspects, aged between 34 and 60, were rounded up by a multidisciplinary team, including police crime intelligence and detectives in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.
Hawks spokesperson Col Katlego Mogale said the operation followed a “complaint by the National Treasury, after it transpired that the suspects allegedly colluded in accessing the Amathole district municipality funds through flouting of procurement processes.
“Afterwards they were awarded a contract for ventilated improved toilets in the Eastern Cape. The Hawks’ preliminary investigation discovered that more than R600m was to be awarded for the contract, of which R286m has already be paid to the suspects,” said Mogale.
“All 10 suspects will be appearing in the East London magistrate’s court [on Friday] on charges of fraud, corruption and money-laundering, in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca). Asset forfeiture processes are under way."
Mogale said "outstanding collaboration" with the office of the director of public prosecutions in the Eastern Cape made it possible for the case to proceed.
In 2016, the Daily Dispatch reported that the controversial project was taken over by the national department of water & sanitation. The initial project, funded through a R631m loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), was scrapped after the municipality terminated a contract with Siyenza Group.
The Dispatch revealed that Siyenza was owned by a Butterworth-born businessman who allegedly had links with prominent politically connected individuals.
The newspaper reported at the time that the contract for the toilets was never advertised, despite its magnitude.
It also reported that the first batch of toilets, built before the contract was cancelled, started collapsing within weeks of being installed.