Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha said on Monday he welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Sunday of the establishment of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) Special Tribunal, saying “the resuscitation of the tribunal will be a breath of fresh air”.
Masutha was speaking at a media briefing on Bosasa contracts and other irregular contracts within the justice and correctional services portfolio. This follows revelations at the ongoing Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, implicating officials in departments within the of justice and correctional services portfolio.
“The SIU Special Tribunal will fast-track the finalisation of civil litigation and speed up the recovery of lost monies and assets, and ease pressure in mainstream courts,” Masutha said.
Masutha, who became minister in 2014, revealed that the department of justice and constitutional development is still contracted to Sondolo IT on a month-to-month basis, following the failure of the department to prepare the necessary documentation to terminate services once the contract ended in September 2018.
For the past five years, Bosasa has also been getting small payments of between less than R2 000 and R10 700 from contracts awarded to Bosasa’s subsidiary, Sondolo IT and Global Technology Systems, for stationery. The latest payment was on January 9 this year.
The company, which now trades as African Global Operations, has recently been implicated in corruption by former employees, who revealed how, through bribes and tailor-made tender specifications, Bosasa had a monopoly not only at the department of correctional services, but also at home affairs and other government offices.
The department was initially brought in Sondolo IT in 2008 for the installation of security infrastructure, which was completed in 2015. This contract was valued at R601 863 632. In September 2015, the contract with Sondolo IT was extended for 36 months. Because the security management section failed to prepare the documentation for the procurement of these services, Sondolo IT has continued to render them.
“Following delays in the finalisation of this process, considering the critical nature of this device, the department was left with no option but to keep the services of Sondolo IT, pending appointment of a new service provider on a quotation basis,” said Masutha. According to the minister, this new appointment “is expected to be finalised soonest”.
Masutha further revealed that following testimonies at the Zondo commission and the closure of their FNB and Absa bank accounts, African Global Operations has been given 30 days to terminate their contracts with the department to service 26 correctional service facility kitchens across the country.
The department has instead instituted insourcing and as of March 8 will commence an offender skills programme to internalise inmate nutritional services.
Thirty-one out of 226 prison kitchens are serviced by outsourced contractors, with 26 of the kitchens serviced by African Global Operations. In 2006, then President Thabo Mbeki issued proclamations to probe allegations of corrupt activities in the awarding of contracts to Bosasa.
The 2009 findings by the SIU made recommendations that disciplinary action be taken against then chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham. These include that the department consider instituting civil proceedings against Bosasa to recover losses and that the national director of public prosecutions consider criminal charges against Gillingham, former National Commissioner Linda Mti, and the company and individuals attached to it.