DA questions ICD lease


Information submitted to the Portfolio Committee on Police by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) has revealed the exact value of the inflated rental of the ICD’s new headquarters, which is owned by controversial businesman Roux Shabangu, the Democratic Alliance says.

The Department of Public Works recommended that the ICD sign a R880 000/month lease for a property owned by Roux Shabangu’s company to house its Pretoria headquarters, the opposition arty’ police shadow Dianne Kohler Barnard says in a statement. “This is double the cost of the monthly rental for the building initially proposed by the ICD, which would have cost just under R420 000/month.
“Not only is the Shabangu-owned building twice the price of the building chosen by the ICD, but it reportedly also does not meet the ICD’s requirements. So the question must be asked: Why is Shabangu getting the lease deal?
“We are seeing history repeating itself. In her report into [two] unlawful SAPS lease deals Public Protector Thuli Madonsela raised concerns both about the suitability and the exorbitant cost of the buildings leased by the Department of Public Works from … Shabangu.

Kohler Barnard says she will ask the Ministry of Public Works to determine why the department recommended that the Shabangu building be used by the ICD, despite its higher cost and inappropriate facilities. “In addition, I will be writing to the Executive Director of the ICD to determine whether they raised concerns about the building with the Department of Public Works before moving in and, if so, what the Department’s response was.
“It is bizarre that the Department of Public Works, which recently saw its minister [Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde] axed because of her involvement in a dodgy lease deal involving Roux Shabangu, would for a second time seek to enter a questionable lease agreement with the same individual.”

The new Minister of Public Works, Thembelani “Thulas” Nxesi, needs to prove that he is committed to putting clear blue water between his tenure and his predecessor’s by providing a full explanation for the reasoning behind the ICD lease deal.

ICD spokesman Moses Dlamini said the police watchdog had been unaware that Shabangu was the building’s owner until June, when it received an enquiry from a journalist, The Star newspaper reports. Dlamini said the ICD had been due to move out of the two buildings it used to occupy during the 2007/08 financial year, but no other building was available. The Structura building had been found to be inadequate for the ICD’s needs and Public Works had then told the directorate it had secured City Forum. “We were not involved in any discussions or negotiations,” Dlamini said.
“We were just told, ‘This is the building that has been secured for you’.
“We were unaware of the terms of the lease, the rental – Public Works handled the signing of the lease, the costs and so on.” The deal was done despite the ICD’s having given Public Works “an initial budget, saying ‘This is what we can afford’.”

Dlamini said the ICD would welcome and co-operate fully with any investigation by the Office of the Public Protector. He said the ICD used 17 buildings – including nine provincial offices and seven satellite offices – all of them procured by Public Works. Regarding suggestions that the new Pretoria offices offered more space than was needed, Dlamini said the ICD’s staff complement had increased and was likely to grow further following the passage of legislation that broadened its mandate and strengthened its powers. It was expected the City Forum building would “be able to accommodate such growth in the short to medium term”.