Home Affairs mulls Bosasa contracts


The Department of Home Affairs may review its multi-million contract with a company that runs the Lindela Repatriation Centre for refugees outside Krugersdorp on Gauteng’s West Rand.

SABC TV news reports the cost of running the centre has come under scrutiny following a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) that determined that running the centre cost government R7.5 million a month.

The public broadcaster reported SCOPA “thinks that the amount is too high and it’s a rip off.”

Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma paid an unannounced visit to the centre yesterday to see for herself whether or not the department was getting value for its money.

The Minister raised concerns about the long delay in the repatriation process. The repatriation centre houses about 2500 refugees a month. Some have been in the centre for more than six months, the longest stay recorded is two years.

Government has signed a 10 year contract with the company that offers services to the centre. The contract expires in 2015 and tough negotiations can be expected if the contract is to be renewed, the SABC added.

The Weekend Post, a Port Elizabeth Saturday broadsheet earlier this month reported that the Eastern Cape legislature had referred a R3.9 billion provincial vehicle management contract to Phakisa Fleet Solutions, part of the greater Bosasa group of companies to the Auditor General for investigation.

The paper reported that the decision followed a four-hour closed meeting of the transport and finance committees at which witnesses, including Transport MEC Ghishma Barry, were required to give evidence under oath, a provision rarely invoked by the committees of the legislature.

After the meeting, roads and transport chairman Xolile Nqatha said the auditor-general investigation would “ensure there was no corruption and there was value for money”.

Nqatha reportedly found it “amazing” that the tender had been awarded to a provider which had tendered for R3.9-billion – way beyond the set budget. This meant the claim that there was consideration of “reasonable affordability” in the process was false, the paper said.

The Mail & Guardian (M&G) as well as Beeld newspapers have previously reported on irregularities surrounding Bosasa contracts in the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).

The M&G noted in February that Bosasa had by then won prison contracts worth about R3-billion over the last several years and was then pursuing “multibillion-rand contracts to build and operate four private prisons”.

Several of these contracts were later investigated by the National Prosecuting Authority’s Special Investigating Unit (SIU) that probes allegations of corruption and recovers stolen state assets.

The M&G late last month reported that the SIU had “finished its investigation into the awarding of these tenders and referred it to the NPA for decision-making on criminal prosecution.” It did not provide further detail.

At least one Bosasa contract with the DCS has come to an end. In May the department took charge of a series of a national and a number of regional control rooms as well as similar facilities at 66 prisons around the country that monitored access to those prisons.

The running of the centres had previously been outsourced to Sondolo IT, a Bosasa subsidiary, under a R88 million contract awarded in 2005.

The deal also saw Krugersdorp-based Sondolo IT install 1850 cameras, 850 biometric readers, 600 metal detectors and 640 access control systems at 66 prisons and the regional control rooms in order to curb prison escapes.