Malema tender mystery deepens

2011-08-14 10:00
Thanduxolo Jika and Jeanne van der Merwe
ANC Youth League president Julius Malema’s former tender-rich company is still scoring from Limpopo tenders.

SGL Engineering Projects – a company in which Malema was a registered director – benefits from tenders ostensibly awarded to On-Point Engineers, a company in which Malema’s family trust owns a stake.

Malema claims his signature was faked on SGL’s company documents and resigned as a director last year.

Malema’s business partner Lesiba Gwangwa was asked this week to explain how SGL benefited from tenders worth at least R60 million for projects which, according to On-Point’s website, were awarded to it.

Gwangwa is a director of SGL and On-Point.

On-Point has a R51 million contract with Limpopo’s roads and transport department to manage a “project management unit” (PMU) involved in the awarding of tenders to build and fix roads.

Last week City Press revealed the existence of confidential “back-to-back” agreements between On-Point and contractors that benefit from the PMU.

Through his Ratanang Family Trust’s shareholding in On-Point, which Malema confirmed to the Mail & Guardian, the youth leader’s interests remain entwined with that of SGL. Many of SGL’s projects now appear to be associated with On-Point’s.

On-Point lists SGL as a strategic partner on its website, but does not disclose the related interests between the two.

City Press visted two government projects in Limpopo this week named by On-Point on its website as tenders awarded to it.

A R29 million-project to build the Makoma High School near Polokwane proudly advertises Segwalo/SGL Consulting Engineers as the “civil and structural engineers” in the project nearing completion.

Segwalo is also Gwangwa’s company and is in the process of being deregistered.

Pat Kgomo, spokesperson for the Limpopo education department, said the Industrial Development Trust (IDT) was responsible for implementing all aspects of the construction project, including tender advertisement, procurement, administration, payments to service providers and project management.

Bali Mamabolo, regional general manager of the IDT in Limpopo, said SGL was appointed in the 2008/09 financial year “to provide professional engineering services for the project”.

“All procedures relating to its appointment were followed and the IDT is satisfied with their work. The project is on schedule to be completed and will be handed over within the stipulated timeframe.”

The second tender, a R39.3 million Modjadjiskloof sewer reticulation project for the Mopani district municipality, also advertises SGL Consulting Engineers as part of the project.

Last year Gwangwa faced controversy when it emerged that two workers had died on the site after working in allegedly unsafe conditions.

A road being constructed at Maseke Villiage also appears on On-Point’s website, although SGL claimed the project during the Public Protector’s investigation of the R15 million road construction project.

Gwangwa and his attorney Mpoyana Ledwaba failed to respond to detailed questions about the role of On-Point in these projects, or to explain the involvement of SGL in projects cited as On-Point projects on its website.

Malema was further linked to SGL this week when The Star reported the R50 000 fine imposed on him by the Equality Court was paid by a former policeman now working for SGL.