14 June 2024 | 01:43 AM

Toilet tenders stink

Key Takeaways

Fresh allegations of tender corruption in the unenclosed toilets saga have been levelled against officials of the Moqhaka Municipality in the Free State.

Four residents, including a former ward councillor, allege that the municipality’s chief whip, Justice Mareka, was awarded a contract to build toilets in the Rammulotsi township in the mid-2000s.

Mareka is listed on the database Cipro as the director of several companies, but he denied he or his company, Makutlisiso Develops, were involved in the toilet contract.

“How could that happen? I.m on the council,” he said to the Mail & Guardian.

But a bricklayer who works for Makutlisiso Develops confirmed the residents’ version. He said that he worked on the toilets project in 2009 and 95 toilets were completed.

The municipality.s technical manager, municipal manager and spokesperson refused to give the M&G the names of companies that had been awarded contracts since 2004 to build the toilets, which remain unenclosed.

Municipal manager Simon Mqwathi said “the matter is sub judice” and ended the phone call.

Vincent Mokgosi, son of Moqhaka mayor Mantebu Mokgosi, is listed as a director of Makutlisiso Develops. He also works as the manager in the mayor’s office.

“[Mokgosi.s] son was the site foreman when construction of the toilets was happening,” a source in the community said.

Vincent Mokgosi could not be reached for comment.

Your worship

M&G Online reported on Wednesday evening that the mayor and her husband, Daniel, co-owned a company called Danteb Construction, which the municipality contracted in 2004 to build unenclosed toilets in Rammulotsi.

Various community sources told the M&G that Danteb Construction had done such a poor job that a second company had to fix the mess. This is allegedly the company that belongs to Mareka.

The first contract, awarded while the mayor was still an ANC ward councillor, was worth R1.6-million. She became a councillor in 2000.

One resident said: “There was a meeting called at the community hall in early July 2004 to tell us that the company appointed is going to build us toilets and that the money is approved by the province. And they said: ‘Let.s just clap hands for the company Danteb.'”

The company.s name is a variation of Mokgosi and her husband.s first names, the resident said.

Mokgosi refused to comment, ending the call when the M&G phoned her on Wednesday.

On Thursday the ANC publicly called for Mokgosi to be fired and the DA asked the public protector to investigate the matter.

For the past few weeks the DA and the ANC have been embroiled in a ping-pong battle in which each has pointed fingers at the other for having unenclosed toilets in their municipalities.

There are 1 620 such toilets in Rammulotsi, which has found itself at the centre of the political feud.

The Human Rights Commission was expected to release its report on the situation in Moqhaka this week, following a complaint laid by the DA in October last year.

Still investigating

But commission spokesperson Vincent Moago said he could not confirm when the report would be completed and a Moqhaka resident told the M&G “the Human Rights Commission people are still driving around town investigating”.

Moago said he could not discuss whether the commission had obtained its findings or how far the process had come.

The commission has come under fire from the DA for taking more than seven months to investigate its complaint, whereas it finalised the ANC’s complaint against the DA for building unenclosed toilets in Makhaza in the Western Cape within four months.

“Every investigation has its own merits and intricacies, so they won.t take the same time,” said Moago.

It has also emerged that the Moqhaka municipality had been aware of the toilet situation in Rammulotsi since July last year, when City Press reported on it.

The ANC claimed recently that it had not known about the toilets. But the M&G has obtained a copy of a report that Mike Lelaka, manager of technical services at the municipality, sent to the mayor on September 20 last year.

“These open toilets named in the [City Press] article are putting Moqhaka municipality at shame due to the negative publicity connected thereto,” Lelaka.s report said.

“This is because the open toilets do not do justice to the dignity of the members of the community. It also constitutes a health hazard and puts community members at risk of the elements when using the system.”

The report also said the estimated repair cost of R8-million was beyond the municipality’s budget.

So surprised

Free State premier Ace Magashule “was so surprised” to find out about the toilet situation, his spokesperson, William Bulwane, told the M&G on Thursday.

Bulwane denied allegations that Magashule had been aware of the situation since last year.

“The headquarters and the premier were so surprised when they found out this week,” he insisted.

Bulwane said Magashule could not comment on allegations that the Moqhaka mayor was involved in receiving a tender for the job through her company until these had been verified.

No relief for the looless masses

In February 2006 Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, then minister of public service and administration, promised to eradicate bucket toilets by 2007.

Five years later thousands of South Africans are still using buckets — or no toilets at all.

In court papers the Democratic Alliance filed when the Human Rights Commission took it to court in January, residents of numerous villages and informal settlements across the country describe the dismal conditions in which they have to relieve themselves.

In the Osizweni informal settlement near Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, residents had to build their own makeshift toilets. But many are forced to use the veld or to defecate into shopping bags that they then toss into skips.

One resident, Smangele Ntuli, said that his neighbours had to wait till nightfall so they could relieve themselves in the veld.

In Mahenge, a settlement near Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape, people use the nearby stream as a toilet.

For many, this stream is also the source of their drinking water.

Those who want clean drinking water have to walk for two hours to the nearest dam.

The community of Matthew.s Ground in Port Elizabeth still uses the bucket system. According to a resident, Eileen Elander, the residents empty their buckets themselves in the bush or into the nearby stream, which smells strongly of faeces.

The Nompumelelo informal settlement in East London has 10 chemical toilets used by 70 000 residents. They often go unemptied for two or three weeks.

And in the Centule community near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, residents do have toilets, but cannot use them. The holes dug underneath the toilets were too shallow, resulting in many structures falling over.

Some do have doors but they do not close and those toilets with seats cannot take the full weight of an adult. — Ilham Rawoot

This article was co-produced by amaBhungane, investigators of the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a nonprofit initiative to enhance capacity for investigative journalism in the public interest. www.amabhungane.co.za.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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