25 March 2023 | 03:48 AM

Listen: Stefaans Brümmer talks EFF, Afrirent, tractors and kickbacks


Radio 702’s Arabile Gumede discussed amaBhungane’s investigation of payments a fleet rental firm made to an EFF-linked company, with Stefaans Brümmer.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Brümmer explained that this is a story amaBhungane first started investigating over a year ago and wrote a kind of preliminary article last November, “We saw that there were these payments made by Afrirent to a little company called Mahuna Investments, and this was just before Afrirent won a R1.2-billion fleet tender from the City of Johannesburg.

Brümmer said: “We stumbled across these two payments to Mahuna Investments by Afrirent. Mahuna was on our radar because we knew it was linked to the EFF, and we were interested in the rumours making the rounds that the EFF — after it gained access to power in both Tshwane and Johannesburg after the 2016 elections — started playing gate-keepers; extracting rents from contracting and procurement budgets of these cities where it now played a significant role.”

There was “a round of denials” after amaBhungane’s story last year. But said Brümmer, “What we’ve now done is we’ve amassed quite a bit of extra information and we are now really in a position to say the evidence is that these were kick-backs.

“We have no EFF version on what we’ve published now: We’ve got their blunt denials from the response in our article last year. Afrirent has maintained its version, which is that these payments it made to Mahuna were not kickbacks in relation to the City of Johannesburg tender, but Mahuna having delivered services to Afrirent on a completely different contract linked to a contract it has in Limpopo.

“We looked at the same period of the services allegedly delivered by Mahuna, and what we found was that there was about R520 000 of services provided by Afrirent to the department of rural development and land reform in Limpopo to deliver tractors and farming implements to communities.”

Afrirent subcontracted Mahuna “to provide training and logistics for the delivery and implementation”.

“It just defeats all reason to say that when it (Afrirent) earns R520 000, it is going to pay Mahuna it’s subcontractor R500 000. Ie. almost the total amount, for a very minor logistics and translation component of the contract. It just doesn’t make any business sense — the alibi doesn’t stand,” Brümmer said.

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Aisha Abdool Karim

Aisha is a freelance science and health reporter. She is joining the amaB team to work on a project about water and sanitation. Aisha’s passion for long-form narrative and investigative journalism was sparked while doing her master’s degree at Columbia University in New York. After graduating in 2018, she returned to South Africa and began working as a general beat reporter for the Daily Maverick. Aisha joined the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism in 2020 to focus on science reporting. During her time there, she covered the COVID-19 pandemic extensively — from fact-checking harmful medical misinformation to unpacking the science behind vaccine development. Aisha’s special interests include analysing health systems and in-depth coverage of public health issues and infectious diseases. She also loves spreadsheets and digging through data.

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