President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe alleged wrongdoing in the procurement of vehicles by the city of Johannesburg in a tender worth R86m.
The vehicles, known as the “red fleet”, were contracted from Fire Raiders (Pty) Ltd.
In a statement on Thursday, the presidency said whistle blowers had alleged that while the costs associated with the purchase of the “red fleet” were paid over to the service provider, delivery was not effected.
In November 2017, the city cancelled the contract for the provision of fire engines after it was discovered that the tender was awarded on the basis of forged bid evaluation committee (BEC) documents.
Ramaphosa has referred the allegations to the SIU in terms of section 2(1) of the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act of 1996.
The SIU has been authorised to investigate any alleged serious maladministration in connection with the affairs of the municipality; improper or unlawful conduct by employees or officials of the municipality; unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property, and unlawful, irregular or unapproved acquisitive acts, transactions, measures or practices that have a bearing on state property.
The presidency said the SIU would investigate whether municipal employees or officials, or contractors or service providers, had acted in a corrupt manner; engaged in fraudulent, unauthorised, irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure, or unduly benefited themselves or other persons or entities.
The investigation will go back to January 2009 and look into suspected intentional or negligent loss of public money or damage to public property, possible offences under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, and unlawful or improper conduct which has caused or may cause serious harm to the interests of the public.
The presidency said these terms of reference would also apply to allegations of wrongdoing regarding repairs and maintenance work at fire stations in the city, the procurement of closed-circuit television equipment and related services from SOS Protec Sure National Division CC and the procurement of or contracting for office accommodation and furniture for the city’s integrated operations centre.
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba welcomed Ramaphosa’s decision, saying on Twitter that his administration had pushed for action to be taken over the contract to procure fire engines.