Africa-Press – South-Africa. Johannesburg – A company with close ties to the ANC’S Gauteng provincial secretary, Jacob Khawe, is in the Public Protector’s sights following its appointment to render services within Emfuleni Local Municipality.
The Sunday Independent can reveal that Comperio Forensic Services is under investigation for allegedly rendering shoddy work to the municipality and receiving huge monthly payments.
One of the directors of the company, Isaac Mashaba is alleged to be extremely close to Khawe. Khawe served as the mayor of the embattled municipality before moving to the ANC’s provincial office to take up his current position.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe confirmed to the publication that an investigation which was lodged with the office in September 2020 was ongoing.
“The investigation is ongoing. It centres among other things alleged procurement irregularities pertaining to a company called Comperio Forensic Services, which allegedly rendered shoddy investigative services to the municipality and was getting paid huge sums of money on a monthly basis. It is alleged to have strong links with political office bearers,” Segalwe said.
The four-page complaint seen by this publication alleged that there were various “irregularities with regards to a tender to conduct forensic investigations in June 2019.”
According to the complaint, Comperio was supposed to start work on January 15, 2018, and end in February 2019.
“And consequently, Comperio Forensic Services are rendering different services without being properly appointed and that their invoices run into millions of rand, with some payments being made without authorisation. The complainants further allege that they lodged several complaints with the Supply Chain Management (SCM) regarding the irregularities, but the Municipal Manager and Chief Financial Officer have neglected or refused to investigate the complaint.”
The PP’s office has since requested the municipality to explain how Comperio Forensic Services was appointed for all the work they are doing, the scope of the works, compensation structures, and if the invoices paid were in terms of the agreed SAICA-rates.
This week, Emfuleni Local Municipality told the publication that Comperio Forensic was appointed on March 6, 2017, as part of a panel of service providers to provide various financial transactions and models for a period of three years under the category of Forensic, Internal Audit and Risk Management.
Municipal spokesperson, Makhosonke Sangweni, said the Service Level Agreement was entered into on April 25, 2017, and the contract term ended on February 5, 2020.
“The Draft Final Investigation Report of Comperio Consulting was submitted to Council in January 2020. The total amount paid to Comperio Consulting is R56 579 168.73,” he said.
The municipality, however, failed to indicate how many contracts Comperio have received.
Sunday Independent has been informed that the work that has been done by Comeprio has been questioned over the quality of its work and why it has been reinstated to investigate issues it had already investigated.
According to sources, there are no appointment letters for the investigations despite the company allegedly receiving payment of R30 million.
In the questions sent to the municipality by the PPs office, the accounting officer has been asked to give reasons why “he has re-instructed Comperio Consulting to investigate issues that have already been investigated and reported on, thus paying Comperio Consulting twice for the same investigation.”
It’s not the first time Khawe has found himself at the end of accusations relating to companies and individuals close to him benefiting from ANC-led municipalities.
In November, this publication reported how he was accused of using his position to allegedly influence the awarding of insurance contracts in the province’s municipalities to a company owned by his wife, Nthabeleng Khabutlane, named Opulentia and Fezi Auditors and Consultants.
At the time, Khawe refuted the allegations, saying he did not influence any municipality.
Khabutlane’s company was appointed in Emfuleni to provide short term insurance in February of 2020. The appointment was questioned a few months later. The municipality’s legal services handed a report to the Municipal Manager Lucky Leseane advising him to cancel the contract as it does not serve the municipality.
Despite Khawe’s initial denial, this week sources told the publication of alleged movement of money between Khawe, Mashaba and Khabutlane.
The Sunday Independent has seen a bank statement allegedly belonging to another company of Mashaba’s, Tamlafin (PTY) LTD detailing payments of nearly R1.5 million from Khabutlane’s company.
Attempts to get comments from Khawe drew a blank while Khabutlane chose not to respond to the questions and instead in three WhatsApp messages said: “Hello we’ll come (sic) back and compliments of 2021. I have forwarded your questions to my lawyer. It’s my wedding this weekend. I don’t know if I will have time to even engage my lawyer. Sorry. You can print. I am really tied up.”
Mashaba said: Good morning sir and thank you for informing me I will engage with my attorney and respond at the right time. (sic)”.
Comperio’s Elsje Oosthuizen also did not respond to questions.
The people in this report who have allegations levelled against them have chosen not to respond to the questions sent. Instead, the reporter received a call from an unknown individual threatening him that the newspaper would be sued and taken to court for defamation and accusing the reporter of meddling in Gauteng Provincial political squabbles.
This is not the first time that the reporter has received subtle threats when making enquiries about allegations of corruption involving politicians at Emfuleni municipality, instead of getting responses from those given the right of reply.