A company contracted by the OR Tambo district municipality to go around door to door raising awareness about the COVID-19 crisis was paid R4.8 million without anyone’s doors actually having been knocked on, according to the Sunday Times.
The company, Phathilizwi Training Institution, claimed that those contracted to carry out the campaign had spoken to some 6 400 people, but it has been reported that hardly any of the names that appeared on the worker’s forms were contacted.
The municipality is now launching a probe into allegations of corruption relating to the mysterious contract.
INVOICES AMOUNT TO NEARLY R5 BILLION
Documents leaked online show two separate invoices dated days apart in which the municipality was billed just over R3 million on 21 May, and R1.8 million on 26 May.
There needs to be an urgent investigation into this…Is this what door to door awareness costs? Documents as received. @GovernmentZA @echealthdept @OscarMabuyane @DrZweliMkhize @CyrilRamaphosa @SAPoliceService @EcHealth2 @ortambodm pic.twitter.com/pnivUPu2qT
— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) July 4, 2020
Suspended municipal manager Owen Hlatzo, who was removed from office pending an investigation into irregular spending amounting to nearly R170 million in June, wrote a letter which was also circulated on social media. In the letter, Hlatzo said that he would not pay the money to the company until they could outline how they had rendered their services.
“I further observed that there are no detailed reports outlining what has been executed. Please note the service provider must submit a detailed report on the work done and the manner in which this has been executed, in line with COVID-19 regulations,” the letter reads.
Hlatzo told the Sunday Times that he had not received a response.
“I asked the speaker’s office to provide me with a methodology used to conduct the awareness programme … But until my suspension I hadn’t received that report,” he said.
OR TAMBO DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY SAY PAYMENT WAS NOT MADE
Municipal speaker Xolile Nkompela told the Sunday Times he has asked the director in his office to report back with information abut the campaign and said that he would would be opening a case of corruption against those responsible for the contract, which he assured the paper had not been paid.
“All such campaigns are managed in my office, but I cannot say if this did take place and what was done. I was assured that this matter has not been paid,” Nkompela said.
“My office wants to root out all corruption in this institution,” he said.
The Sunday Times contacted several members of the municipality who were supposed t receive a knock on their door, with many of them having no idea what the newspaper was referring to.