Sunday, August 21, 2011

Juju and the Jet Plane

21 August, 2011

HIGH LIFE: Julius Malema is said to have taken trips in this Cessna Citation 500, whose owner has won lucrative tenders in Limpopo

Mystery tycoon Mohamed Dada, who is said to be flying ANC Youth League president Julius Malema around the country in his private jet, was awarded lucrative tenders by the Limpopo Roads Department - whose projects are managed by Malema's company.

Malema's Ratanang Trust owns shares in On-Point Engineering, which scored a R52-million deal to act as "project manager" for Limpopo's roads department. This effectively gave it influence over how tenders are awarded.

This week the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, launched a probe into On-Point Engineering as evidence mounted of businessmen giving kickbacks to Malema's company in return for lucrative tenders.

Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela also confirmed that the elite police unit had launched a criminal probe into Malema's dealings.

The Sunday Times obtained documents this week revealing that On-Point arranged for kickbacks from partner companies awarded roads tenders, through highly secretive "back-to-back" agreements.

Among the businessmen close to Malema who concluded lucrative deals with the roads department is Dada, a Limpopo businessman who owns Dada's World of Hardware. He is said to have flown Malema around the country in his private jet, a Cessna Citation 500, worth R18-million.

Several well-placed insiders said Dada's jet had flown Malema from Rand Airport in Germiston to Polokwane, Durban and East London in the past two months.

Trips included a flip to watch the Black Leopards play Orlando Pirates in Polokwane on August 12, and a jaunt to the Durban July horse race.

According to legal experts, any benefit in kind, including flights, could be considered a prosecutable offence under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

Dada's pilot, Jared Zeeman, said on Friday that he flew "influential people" around but would not confirm that these included Malema.

"That's confidential information that I can't discuss. I'm just the bus driver," he said.

Despite promising to return calls, Dada has avoided questions from the Sunday Times for two weeks.

The Sunday Times last week revealed that a company known as Sizani Build It had won tenders from the provincial roads department.

It is owned by businessman Steve Bosch, a founder of the ANC Youth League in the province.

Bank statements confirmed that in recent months Bosch had paid R1.2-million to Aurelio Cimato, the Johannesburg architect building Malema's mansion in Sandton.

The bank statements say the R1.2-million was transferred for "J Malema", and smses were sent to Malema confirming payment. Bosch refused to explain the payments, saying they were for "my private business dealings" with Cimato.

This week the Sunday Times obtained documents that uncover secret "back-to-back" agreements between On-Point and partner companies that were awarded roads tenders.

The documents shows that On-Point appears to be invoicing one contractor at least R1-million a month for "consulting fees".

If it is splitting fees with contractors appointed by the roads department to work on specific projects, this would be a conflict of interest.

A "memorandum of understanding" between On-Point and a company called Mpotseng Infrastructure CC details how fees "shall be shared" for eight road improvement projects awarded by the roads department.

"Proceeds from the above projects shall be shared between the parties", with On-Point collecting "all fees for the planning and design stages", while Mpotseng would collect "all fees for the construction stages", the document says.

Under this deal, On-Point would collect R1.6-million, while Mpotseng would collect R684 866.00.  Mpotseng Infrastructure CC's sole director, Arthur Mpotseng Phetla, is listed as a former director of On-Point Engineering, with the same residential address as On-Point's CEO Lesiba Gwangwa.

Gwangwa referred questions to his lawyer Lazarus Ledwaba, who did not return calls or respond to text messages. Mpotseng Phetla's lawyer Mojalefa Motalane said his client declined to discuss the issue. "My client and Lesiba Gwangwa share a very long relationship. We really can't entertain these issues any further."

Although dated this year, the memorandum of understanding is not signed. It says the deal ends "on handover of the projects to the Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport".

Two invoices from On-Point - seen by the Sunday Times - offer further evidence that contractors pay it kickbacks:

On March 22, On-Point invoiced Mpotseng for R1.2-million, and on April 21, Mpotseng was invoiced for a further R1-million by On-Point. The amounts were payable to On-Point's company cheque account held at FNB's Sandton branch.
Both parties were clearly at pains to ensure their special arrangement was kept secret.

A secrecy clause in the contract obliges both parties to "keep confidential the terms and conditions of this (memorandum of understanding) ... whether such information has been marked by the disclosing party as confidential or not".

The memorandum even specifies the names of the parties involved must be kept from the eyes of Treasury officials, who might raise questions about the efficient use of taxpayers' money.

"Any information shared by the service provider with the National Treasury will be shared on a statistical basis and no names will be made known," the memorandum says.

These back-to-back deals are likely to be investigated by Madonsela, as well as how On-Point scored the R51.9-million "project management" contract from Limpopo's government in the first place. Complaints have been laid at Madonsela's office by the Democratic Alliance, COPE and Afriforum.

Malema could not be reached for comment and failed to respond to text messages

1 comment:

  1. I would also like to know how Dada has recently had two illegal building projects [blocks of flats 64 units each] which were condemned as the passing of the plans were suspicious! On investigation the Mayor of Polokwane had the buildings stopped and a court ruling passed that they would have to be demolished. Dada appealed to the High Court - Rulings were overturned in Dadas favour building work has commenced! - Unfortunately we are the neighbours of one of these buildings no notices etc were displayed apparently the site next to us was only passed for townhouses not a three storey block of flats - who can fight Dada when he has influence not only with Malema but also the High Court!