25 March 2023 | 02:40 AM

Officials face 1 000 counts over security tender

Key Takeaways

More allegations of self-enrichment at the expense of taxpayers have surfaced in the Northern Cape following the arrests of four officials and a prominent businessperson in connection with a dodgy security tender.

The senior officials from the provincial department of public works and a business associate of the Northern Cape’s ANC chairperson, John Block, were charged on Thursday with more than 1 000 counts of fraud and corruption.

The charges relate to an alleged scam involving a tender to provide security services to government properties and rural schools.

The wide-ranging contract was awarded to Karibuni Security Services, whose director is Motsamai Rantho, Block’s associate and a former public servant.

Rantho allegedly charged the department about R40-million over a period of about 10 years, but it is alleged invoices were padded with ghost security guards.

Charges added

Northern Cape Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Olebogeng Tawana confirmed that the five were charged early on Thursday morning and appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court shortly afterwards. Tawana said charges of racketeering and money laundering could be added to the charge sheet.

The four, who were directors in the department — Burt Barends, Ruth Palm, Bradley Slingers and Elias Selemela — are understood to have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Block is not implicated in the allegations, because he resigned from his position as MEC of the department in 2003 amid separate corruption allegations, of which he was acquitted. His lawyers did not respond to questions about his relationship with Rantho.

A spokesperson for the department, Crystal Robertson, said the department of public works had no record of the original tender awarded to Karibuni, because it had been done by the now disbanded provincial tender board in 2003.

“Law enforcement agencies are still investigating the contract we had [with Karibuni],” she said.
“The department had no problem with the services rendered by Karibuni, but we were not satisfied with their actual management and invoicing.”

* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Email [email protected]

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.

Share this story:


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.

Your identity is safe with us. Email or Call us


Related Stories