The intervention last year by the FF Plus about the irregularities with rental tenders in Pilgrims Rest has now led to the Hawks instituting a high level investigation into possible fraud which involved officials, says Adv. Anton Alberts, the FF Plus’ parliamentary spokesperson on trade and industry.
According to Adv. Alberts, it is a consequence of a complaint the FF Plus had submitted on the 6th of July last year with the Public Protector (PP) on behalf of the 17 owners of business enterprises in the historical mining town whose rental agreements were suspended at short notice.
“The fact that the police foremost investigative team for serious crimes will be investigating the case, points to the seriousness of the complaint and the high profile of the persons who are involved.
“It also once again undeniably shows how hard the FF Plus fights for law and justice, even on a local level where people and their interests are being violated.
“In this case, business people in the town were given only 30 days to vacate their shops so that new tenants could take it over following a sheepish tender process. New contracts were apparently awarded to new tenant s for ‘ridiculously low rental amounts’.
“Many of the new tenants had immediately tried to hawk it back to the original tenants, which clearly shows that the tender process was abused to make money quickly without having to work for it,” Adv. Alberts says.
The PP found in her investigation that the tender process contained several irregularities and the FF Plus had accordingly laid charges of fraud and corruption against the relevant officials, which is mentioned in the PP’s report.
Mpumalanga’s department of public works, roads and transport has in the mean-time scrapped the controversial tender process upon the recommendation of the PP and it has to be started from scratch.
Adv. Alberts says the issue is a huge victory for the business people of the town.
The FF Plus is together with the business people of the town glad about the course of events. The new tender process will also be watched closely to ensure that it is done honestly and transparently this time,” says Adv. Alberts.
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