News24.com | SIU application to freeze Beitbridge border contractors’ bank accounts postponed

News24.com | SIU application to freeze Beitbridge border contractors’ bank accounts postponed
A general view of the border fence that separates South Africa and Zimbabwe near the Beitbridge border post.

A general view of the border fence that separates South Africa and Zimbabwe near the Beitbridge border post.

Phill Magakoe, AFP

  • The Special Investigating Unit’s application to freeze the bank accounts of two contractors appointed to build a fence at the Beitbridge border has been postponed.
  • The SIU has applied for a restraint order to freeze the bank accounts of contractors Caledon River Properties CC, trading as Magwa Construction and Profteam CC.
  • So far, R21.8 million has been paid from the project’s R40 million budget.

Lawyers for the Special Investigating Unit and two construction companies, irregularly appointed to build a fence at Beitbridge border, were locked in consultations for more than an hour before the start of a hearing to freeze the contractors’ bank accounts.

On Thursday, Judge Lebogang Modiba postponed the matter to 16 October after parties agreed to move the date in order to file replying and supplementary affidavits.

The SIU has applied for a restraint order to freeze the bank accounts of Caledon River Properties CC, trading as Magwa Construction and Profteam CC.

The companies are responsible for the construction of the border fence.

READ | Honesty a stretch too far for Beitbridge border contractors

The department’s national bid adjudication committee (NBAC) approved both bids for the project in March.

On 18 March, the NBAC approved the appointment of Caledon River Properties CC, trading as Magwa Construction, to provide contractor services at a cost of R37 million.

The next day, Profteam CC’s appointment was approved to provide professional services at a cost of R3.2 million.

The project was meant to secure the country’s border with Zimbabwe in the wake of the Covdi-19 pandemic.

It had a budget of R40 million and, so far, R21.8 million has been paid to contractors.

The SIU is also going after the R21.8 million.

Modiba said: “The SIU is granted to leave to supplement its founding affidavit or to file an explanatory affidavit by Monday 12 October.”

The third to fifth respondents, should they so wish, will file their answering affidavits by the same date, she added and by 14 October, the current opposing respondents will supplement their answering affidavits.

READ ALSO | SANDF soldiers allowing desperate Zimbabweans to cross the border to buy food, medicine

Modiba was, however, concerned that there were no provisions for a reply by the SIU.

“These details are very important, and this matter may not be ready for hearing, we need to make sure provision is made for all the parties,” he said.

Parties, however, agreed to finalise the matter within a day and to hold further hearings next Friday.

“It allows the SIU to file a supplementary reply, by the Thursday should it so wish. The heads argument would then be filed on that day [as well]. On 15 October, the SIU will supplement its replying affidavit. By the same date should all the parties, so require, shall file the supplementary head of arguments by 16:00,” she said.

An investigation into the Beitbridge border fence project has found that the government paid R17 million more than the market-related cost.

A further assessment using market-related prices for materials actually used on-site and revised fees for engineering services provides for a total project cost of R23 388 023.97. This indicates that the project costs were exceeded by an amount of R17 047 891.01.

Investigators also found at least 115 breaches.

A team from the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission also found the razor wire on the fence was stretched beyond its accepted capability.

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