Report declaring water supply to KZN hospitals safe, ‘was ignored’

Zondo commission hears this was done to flout tender processes

Report declaring water supply to KZN hospitals safe, was ignored to flout tender processes, Zondo commission hears

22 January 2020

A report deeming the water being supplied to hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) safe, was ignored to flout tender processes in the procurement of water purification plants, the commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Wednesday.

"They used a problem in water to procure goods from Intaka, despite a report stating that there was not contamination in the water [which] was ignored," forensic auditor Trevor White said, as the commission turns its focus to the alleged capture of law enforcement agencies.

White was referring to the relationship between a company Intaka, owned by wealthy businessman Gaston Savoi, and the KZN Department of Health.

The forensic auditor gave the chair, Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Raymond Zondo, a glimpse into how "processes were circumvented by entities, that are linked to one another, submitting competitive cover quotes against one another".

"Chair, this is the common method used to circumvent tender processes, but it can only be done with the help of someone in the department," he said.

He added that in instances where the water purification plants were procured, they were never used as "there was no budget to procure the required chemicals".

This matter was later known as the so-called "Amigos" case, involving allegations of racketeering, corruption and fraud worth R144m in KZN provincial contracts given in return for "sweeteners", News24 reported.

The fraud case implicated high-ranking ANC officials in the province - Mike Mabuyakhulu and Peggy Nkonyeni, among others. The charges against the duo, however, were later withdrawn.

White told the Zondo commission that Nkonyeni's boyfriend had allegedly benefited from Intaka Holdings for services that had allegedly never been rendered.

"R1m was paid by Intaka to an entity that was owned by a Mr Mkhwanazi, who was the boyfriend of Peggy Nkonyeni, [allegedly] for services he was providing relating to the marketing of the water purification plants.

"There is no evidence of these services being provided," he explained.

The list of accused has since been narrowed down to nine: Cape Town-based billionaire Savoi, his company Intaka Holdings, his colleague Fernando Praderi, former head of provincial treasury Sipho Shabalala and his wife Beatrice Shabalala, former head of health BusisiweNyembezi, former health officials Victor Ntshangase and Alson Buthelezi, and Advocate Sandile Kuboni.

The inquiry continues.