Beitbridge Border Post fence tender under investigation by the SIU

After President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) would be tasked with weeding out any and all corruption currently plaguing state entities, the Beitbridge Border Post's new COVID-19-purposed fence has come under scrutiny. 

SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi has said on Monday 27 July that irregularities have been found with regard to the awarding of the tender to construct the R37 million fence, which has been vandalised and generally written off as a poorly executed endeavour. 

SIU to investigate Beitbridge tender  

Speaking to PowerFM on Monday morning, Mothibi said that the SIU was indeed set to investigate the awarding of the tender, with the Department of Public Works having received their report on the matter. 

"We did find that there are irregularities in that process," he said. 

"That report has been sent back to the Department of Public Works. I was even informed that they are gonna share it with the auditor general."

Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille has instructed the investigative unit to interrogate any potential corruption with vigour, according to Mothibi. 

"She was saying to me that we must make sure the quality assurance of the report is appropriate and we did that. We sent it back to the department."

"That part was done on a secondment basis. We seconded our officials there. They even went to Beitbridge, checked the fence and interviewed the engineers who testified to the poor quality [of the fence]."

Scopa call for payment to be withheld pending investigation  

As hurriedly as the fence, which has been described as a "washing line" by the Democratic Alliance (DA), was erected, so too did vandals and thieves start swooping in to disassemble it piece by piece, with the department of Public Works receiving "daily" reports of illicit activity around the border post. 

The 40km fence – 20km on each side of the Beitbridge border post – was built to ensure that those who crossing between South Africa and Zimbabwe do so through the legal channels, a necessity made urgent by the dawn of COVID-19. 

Government has already paid R21 million of the R37 million tender which was awarded to Magwa Construction in March, but the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) have called for the balance to be withheld pending the result of the investigation. 

"They have paid R21 million and we are saying the balance should not be paid until this investigation is concluded," said Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa.