SIU should include Hammanskraal Water Report in its investigation of R295 million Rooiwaal tender

ActionSA has today handed over the report emanating from the Commission of Inquiry into the Hammanskraal water crisis to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). The water crisis has gripped the Hammanskraal, Rooiwal and surrounding areas for almost 17 years.

South Africans will recall it was ActionSA which took the unprecedented step of holding a Commission of Inquiry into this matter because residents of the affected areas had been denied the opportunity to make submissions into various investigations in the past.

The SIU of South Africa has now received this report and has an ethical duty to include this report, Commissioned by ActionSA, in its ongoing investigation into the R295 million Rooiwaal Treatment Plant tender that has further frustrated the region’s water woes.

Section 4(1)(b) of the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act requires the unit “collect evidence regarding acts or omissions which are relevant to its investigation and, if applicable, to institute proceedings in a Special Tribunal against the parties concerned.”

The evidence heard by the commission suggested that the process of awarding the tender was manifestly deficient in that the recipient was an amateur contractor and quoted a price much higher than other, better qualified and more experienced bidders. It is therefore bizarre why this contractor was ultimately chosen and on what basis.

Amongst the many reasons ActionSA contends this tender was corrupt, are the following:

  1. It amounted to a R295 million award to a joint venture with both companies owned by Edwin Sodi for the upgrade of the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  2. Neither company in the joint venture had any experience in this kind of project.
  3. The joint venture did not have the required funds for site establishment. The City of Tshwane paid R1 million upfront to float the costs of site establishment.
  4. The joint venture, in contravention of the supply chain policies of the City of Tshwane, had to be ceded R71 million upfront because it lacked the resources for the initial capital outlay.
  5. When the adjudication committee cancelled the tender award, the City of Tshwane inexplicably did not defend its decision in the legal proceedings brought by the joint venture.

Since its completion last year, this report has been handed over to the Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Randall Williams, for his urgent attention. When it was clear that attention was forthcoming, ActionSA brought a motion to Council for the matter to be investigated and reported back to the Council by the end of June 2022. This deadline too was not met and Council had to amend the report to force its return by the end of August 2022 and commission a further investigation into its delay.

The report specifically found that the City of Tshwane, in the past, failed to:

  • Protect the community’s constitutionally guaranteed right to access to sufficient and safe drinking water;
  • Comply with the prescripts of the Municipal Systems Act which requires that residents be provided equitable access to municipal services including uncontaminated water;
  • Act responsively and transparently as demanded by the Act;
  • Respect, protect, promote and fulfil the residents’ constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being; and
  • Comply with section 195(1)(b) of the Constitution to use the City’s financial resources in the best interests of the Hammanskraal community;
  • Promote efficient, economic and effective use of resources. This applies, specifically, to the R295 million allocated for upgrades to the Rooiwaal plant which has gone unaccounted for.

In the end, it is years of administrative incompetence and a deficit in political will that has allowed the people of Hammanskraal to languish without safe drinking water and the SIU has is duty-bound to get to the bottom of this and to ensure that the people of Tshwane get requisite justice in this regard

We look forward to the SIU’s engagement with us on this report in our endeavour to restore the rights of Tshwane’s residents.