Five senior employees including CFO Bhamjee and CEO Botes may be guilty of financial misconduct, according to the SIU
The Joburg Property Company (JPC) board has asked for the suspensions of CEO Helen Botes and CFO Imraam Bhamjee to be lifted, despite the two being fingered in a Special Investigative Unit (SIU) investigation into financial misconduct and corruption at the company.
This stems from the awarding of Covid-19 deep-cleaning contracts worth nearly R19 million to four service providers, apparently at inflated prices.
The Citizen has seen documents showing that Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo and acting city manager Floyd Brink have received the report. Despite this, The Citizen understands that Mkahubo was in discussions with the JPC board this week on the future of Botes and Bhamjee, who are both implicated in the report.
This follows rumours circulating among employees that the newly appointed board is pushing for the pair’s suspensions to be lifted.
Letters seen by The Citizen include one addressed to Makhubo from JPC board chairperson Moeketsi Rabodila requesting the lifting of the suspension. According to the letter, the board met on 21 April and resolved to lift the suspensions and that a formal report would be furnished in this regard.
City of Johannesburg spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane confirmed the city administration had received and was dealing with the report.
He did not, however, elaborate on the board’s deliberations with the city.
“The city confirmed that the SIU report has been forwarded to the delegated MMC for economic development portfolio for consideration and to the JPC board of directors to exercise its fiduciary duties to act with the necessary skill and care in this matter. I am not in a position to preempt the board’ss deliberations and resolutions at this stage.”
Botes and Bhamjee were suspended last year following corruption allegations contained in two reports tabled in the city council.
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Five senior employees, including Bhamjee and Botes, may be guilty of financial misconduct, according to the SIU investigation report. The report shows that shows that millions spent on four deep-cleaning contracts amounted to fruitless and wasteful expenditure because the implicated officials inflated prices quoted by service providers, ostensibly to their own benefit.
The companies that benefited from the contracts were KM Mashigo Trading cc, Omphile Turnkey & Solutions (Pty) Ltd, Mizana Trading and Triple SL Tech cc.
On the part of Botes, the SIU found the CEO may have flouted the law in that she allowed senior manager Jay Sunker to negotiate rates with the service providers. She also may have broken the law by ignoring procurement policies on competitive pricing in procurement, causing the government to wastefully spend R18,321,620.
Bhamjee faced similar allegations in that he oversaw the awarding of the contracts knowing full well that supply chain management compliance was not followed. Both are also accused of flouting the Disaster Management Act, which could carry heavy penalties on its own, including jail time.
Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa mandated the SIU to probe Covid-19 related corruption allegations in government.
Also Read: Johannesburg Property Company bigshots suspended amid corruption controversy
The awarding of the contracts came in the middle of political battles in the JPC emanating from disputes in the city council.
The South African Municipal Workers Union has long accused the Patriotic Alliance (PA) of using its power in the government of local unity to get top city jobs for its members, while the PA has in turn accused the ANC of overseeing and instigating corrupt activities at the company.
Botes is a former political advisor to acting CEO Ruby Mathang when he was MMC for economic development under former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau.
According to DA caucus leader Leah Knott, Botes was hired as the CEO of JPC in 2012 despite her only having a diploma.
“She has been a key fixer for the ANC in terms of securing contracts through the lucrative repair and maintenance budget,” Knott says.
Her assertions that Rabodila and other board members have been pushing for her return has been echoed by a source in the company who works closely with Botes’ office. According to Knott, the DA-led administration tried to remove all the old ANC-affiliated board members in 2019 but ANC-aligned officials thwarted the move.