Former KZN health MEC met with supplier before contract was signed, Zondo hears

Former KZN health MEC met with supplier before contract was signed, Zondo hears

KZN Public Works MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni. Picture: Reinhardt Hartzenberg

The state capture inquiry heard of several meetings Peggy Nkonyeni had with Gatson Savoi, whose entity entered into a contract with the KZN department of health.

A day after the KwaZulu-Natal department of health (DoH) signed a contract for the supply of oxygen plants, its political head communicated via SMS with the owner of the entity awarded the tender.

The contract between the provincial DoH and the supplier, Intaka, was signed on 13 December 2007.

The provincial MEC for health at the time was Peggy Nkonyeni and the owner of Intaka was Dr Gaston Savoi.

In the SMS, Nkonyeni suggested to Savoi that since the contract had not been as lucrative for Intaka as had been anticipated because the company would have to cover the costs of maintaining the plants, he should consider cancelling a donation he was meant to pay.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) forensic auditor Trevor White told the chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that this was an “unusual SMS to be sent” by the then MEC as it gave the impression that Nkonyeni was more concerned about Intaka incurring the costs of maintenance rather than being pleased that the DoH managed to avoid bearing these costs.

White told Zondo that the donation Nkonyeni spoke about in the SMS could not have been the one Savoi had said in an affidavit had been to the governing African National Congress (ANC).

The latter donation was paid on 12 March 2007. It was paid into the trust account of Khuboni and Shezi attorneys.

Evidence leader at the commission advocate Susan Wentzel said that in an affidavit, Savoi readily admits that following a contract between Intaka and the KwaZulu-Natal department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), he made the donation to the ANC as a quid pro quo for scoring the tender. She speculated that a similar arrangement had been made between the DoH and Intaka.

The commission heard that at the time the DoH signed the contract with Intaka on 13 December 2007, two payments of R500,000 each had been made to an entity, Rowmoor Investments, owned by Nkonyeni’s romantic partner at the time, Linda Mkhwanazi.

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White said the two payments were made on 3 August 2007 and 23 November 2007.

The commission heard that Savoi had said that these payments were for Mkhwanazi’s marketing of the water purification plants which Intaka had supplied to the DoH in 2006. Savoi and Mkhwanazi had a gentleman’s agreement which culminated in the payment.

However, in an email read at the commission sent on 13 December 2007, Savoi mentions Rowmoor in relation to the 2007 DoH contract.

White said Rowmoor was, however, registered on 26 March 2007 and Mkhwanazi was made its sole director on 4 May 2007, on the same day he met with Intaka’s auditors and that he and Nkonyeni were scheduled to meet with Savoi.

He said it appeared Rowmoor was established on the request by Intaka.

Nkonyeni had ongoing meetings, almost on a monthly basis, with Savoi, sometimes where Mkhwanazi was present, before and after the contract for the supply of the oxygen plants was signed, the commission heard.

This information was obtained from Savoi’s electronic diary, which was part of the documents police seized for investigations into the Amigos case, White said.

White said according to his recollection, Intaka paid for Nkonyeni and Mkhwanazi’s hotel stay sometime in November 2007 when the pair was scheduled to meet with Savoi.

He said that considering these meetings, it would be difficult to accept that Nkonyeni was not aware of the payments Intaka made to Rowmoor.

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