By Kaya 959 News
Five people, including senior officials in the Eastern Cape Department and a businessman, have appeared in court in connection with a multi-million rand tender deal.
Noxolo Valencia Gwarube, Mthunywa Lawrence Ngonzo, Raymond Tywakadi, Tyronne Fourie and Johannes Hermanus Bouwer Smith face charges of corruption, fraud, attempted fraud, theft and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act over a R59 million IT tender.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, said the ECDoE decided to centralise the supply of supplementary resource material (SRM), mainly IT equipment and photocopiers, and this meant that schools no longer procured SRM themselves but through the department.
“It is alleged that Gwarube, Ngonzo and Fourie decided that the LTSM Unit would procure SRM, specifically IT including photocopiers, during the 2014-2015 financial year despite the fact that the LTSM Unit had not budgeted for such procurement,” he said.
He said this was allegedly done under the pretense that schools were adequately resourced with textbooks, the message internally was that 80% of the textbook budget would be shifted and utilised for the procurement of SRM.
No budget allocated
There was no budget allocated for SRM and it was decided that the textbook budget would be used to cater for the procurement of SRM.
Ngwema said generally, any shift of funds within the budget of the ECDoE would have required a report to seek approval from National Treasury for the shifting of funds to be utilised.
“The state contends that their intention was from the outset to ignore the legislated imperative that such goods had to be procured through SITA and/or relevant specified contracts,” he said.
Ngwena said they also disregarded their duty to comply with the provisions of the PFMA and to ensure that the procurement of said goods had to be fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective; and Gwarube was in charge of the LTSM project.
No application made
Gwarube never applied for the budget to be shifted. Ngonzo, the SG at the time, was aware of the budget split but failed to ratify the intended budget split and nothing was reported to Treasury.
Siegesmund supplied R59 million worth of IT equipment and Fourie signed off the request as if it was for books in order to access the books budget.
None of the procurement protocols were followed to appoint Siegesmund as a supplier. Siegesmund was not registered on the database of registered suppliers of the ECDoE and it had very little or no experience or expertise in the supply of IT goods and services.
It was merely used as a vehicle to run the business of supplying IT equipment to the ECDoE in anticipation of being awarded the contract by the ECDoE.
It is alleged a generally corrupt relationship came into existence resulting in Gwarube accepted “gifts” like 26 laptop computers of which two were for personal benefit; a cell phone, Samsung Galaxy mini S4, for the personal benefit; an agreement to accept payment of the amount of R 120 486 from Border Conference Centre into an account under the control of Spectra, an account owned by Siegesmund.
The matter was postponed to 8 July 2021 for copies of the docket and to allow for Tywakadi’s legal representative to be confirmed. They were granted R5000 each.