By Staff Reporter
South Africa’s move to erect a 40km borderline fence to repel Zimbabweans from crossing into its territory has ended in chaos after private companies assigned to undertake the task did a shoddy job, sparking a row with authorities in the neighbouring country.
The decision to erect a security fence along the SA-Zimbabwe Beitbridge border post was made 2020 ostensibly to prevent Zimbabweans from crossing into South Africa in the wake of the Covid-19 disaster.
Ironically, South Africa was Africa’s worst hit country by Covid-19 with most of their early infections coming from Europe.
However, things did not go according to plan as the companies assigned with the job erected a fence that began falling apart, prompting the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in South Africa to investigate the contracts.
The companies contracted are Caledon River and Profteam.
The SIU found various irregularities in the awarding of the contracts and approached a Special Tribunal to declare the agreements invalid.
The contracts were set aside by agreement between the parties, and the tribunal in July last year declared the agreement an order of the court.
The tribunal then had to formulate a just and equitable remedy after the invalidation of the contracts.
The SIU sought the repayment of the amounts already paid to the companies. In the alternative, the SIU sought an order divesting the companies of the profits they derived from the contracts. The companies wanted the tribunal to order that the department make the remaining balances due to them.
Special Tribunal judge Lebogang Modiba ruled it was just and equitable to apply the “no profit and no loss” principle.
“In the present circumstances, this relief is fair to all the parties [and] vindicates the values of fairness, equity, transparency, competitiveness and cost-effectiveness that were disturbed when the [two companies] were awarded the contracts unlawfully.
Public works spent R35m on Beitbridge fence, rent and state funeral ‘irregularities’
The public works and infrastructure department has suffered seven “material irregularities” which cost the state R43.3m from 2019 to date.