Legal bid to freeze company accounts over R40m Beitbridge fence

Two contractors allegedly unlawfully appointed to erect and repair the Beitbridge border fence are expected to appear in court on Friday.
Two contractors allegedly unlawfully appointed to erect and repair the Beitbridge border fence are expected to appear in court on Friday.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

Two contractors who were allegedly unlawfully appointed as part of the controversial R40.4m Beitbridge border fence contract are expected to appear in court on Friday.

This is after an urgent application was brought to the Special Tribunal of South Africa to freeze bank accounts of the two contractors, identified as Caledon River Properties (Pty) Ltd and Profteam CC.

The application also seeks to to recover R21.8m paid to the contractors, and also interdict the public works and infrastructure department from making further payments in relation to the project, pending the finalisation of the main action against the contractors.

The tribunal said on Thursday that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) approached it after the contractors received an advance payment of more than R20m for the construction of the 40km razor-mesh fence at the border.

“The R21.8m payment was allegedly paid before the construction work commenced. In the alternative, the applicants contend that Caledon River Properties (Pty) Ltd and Profteam CC be expected to provide them with the bank guarantee letters to ensure the availability of funds pending further investigations and subsequent civil proceedings,” said tribunal spokesperson Selby Makgotho.

“It is alleged that the department, using emergency procurement processes to address, prevent and combat the spread of Covid-19, unlawfully appointed the two contractors to erect and repair the borderline fence.”

The total contract price was R40.4m, he said - of which R21.8m had already been paid, which was not done in accordance with the law.

“It is contended that the said emergency procurement was not done in accordance with the law and other legislative prescripts governing procurement in state departments, and that the processes were marred by allegations of irregularities,” said Makgotho.

Public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille, the department's director-general Sam Vukela and acting CFO Juanita Prinsloo have also been cited as respondents in the papers before the Special Tribunal.

The application was expected to be heard on Friday at Booysens, Johannesburg.

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