According to an article in the January edition of Noseweek, details are provided about a forensic report exposing how the administration of former ANC mayor Kgosientso “Sputla” Ramokgopa “refurbished” the city’s municipal headquarters.
The 247-page report by Fundudzi Forensic Services reportedly damns the City Hall project, the budget of which escalated from R12 million to R138 million in less than a year, leaving behind a “mess of rubble, and walls covered in psychedelic wallpaper and op-art tiles, ‘suitable only for a rent-by-the-hour hotel or a dominatrix torture room'”.
The administration of new DA mayor Solly Msimanga, who took over after the August 3 elections, has reportedly estimated that it will now cost a further R20 million to “fix the roof, repair 200 windows and get some of the toilets working. A further R60 million will be needed to restore the interior to its former grandeur.”
The Noseweek article further mentions that the complex’s 80-year-old organ, the biggest in the southern hemisphere, had its pipes damaged by contractors who allegedly dropped scaffolding while painting the ceiling. This could cost a further R18 million to repair because new parts will need to be made for the antique instrument.
Noseweek quotes new project manager Pieter de Necker as saying that he found antique furniture “randomly left outside and exposed to the elements, handmade leadglass lampshades ripped from the walls … 70% of the brass fittings were missing, presumed stolen”.
The “priceless Rhodesian teak floors” have apparently been covered with “modern laminated floorboard and high-gloss tiles”.
The former administration allegedly buried the forensic report, which recommended that criminal charges be laid against Ramokgopa’s chief of staff, Ernest Shozi, and other top officials. Numerous companies were also fingered in corruption and incompetence in the refurbishment of the mayor’s official residence, with millions allegedly paid out to questionable contractors without anyone checking whether any work had been done, or the quality of that work.
The forensic investigators reportedly also found that some officials may have benefited illegally from municipal payments, since there could be little justification for amounts charged, such as R4 000 per square metre for “glitter-infused wallpaper”, which was used to cover some of the original murals, while other murals were “simply painted over”.
Msimanga recently laid charges against Shozi and former project manager Tswelopelo Maabane, Noseweek reported. The DA’s MMC for economic development told the magazine that he believed Ramokgopa should also be charged in his personal capacity for damages caused as he “can’t claim ignorance because they [his previous administration] commissioned the forensic investigation”.
The ANC has previously challenged the DA to prove its allegations regarding the bungled refurbishments of City Hall and the mayoral residence.
The party and its leaders continue to deny wrongdoing or any knowledge of wrongdoing.
Below are a few photographs taken during a tour of City Hall in October.