Municipality paid R11 million for service which is free through Google Maps

A North West municipality paid R11 million to a politically connected Zimbabwe-born businessman for services which are free from Google Maps and a minimal fee from the Deeds Office.

The City Press reported that the Moses Kotane Local Municipality paid the businessman to distinguish between land which the municipality owns and private land.

Prior to this deal, Google’s free map services and the Deeds Office’s property search service were used.

The businessman was also awarded numerous other tenders at the municipality, including a R200 million information and communication technology tender.

While there is widespread corruption in the North West province, what makes this case stand out is the checkered past of the person.

The Mail & Guardian reported that he was convicted for defrauding the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in 2018 in the commercial crimes court in Pretoria.

He was given a suspended sentence in a plea bargain where he agreed to pay R843,080 for his misdeeds.

The Hawks is investigating a case of fraud involving one of his companies which received R234 million for an ICT audit and development strategy contract.

According to National Treasury, the company was paid R78 million more than the R156 million that was budgeted for in the contract.

Treasury added that over 72% of the total contract was paid within seven days of the service provider’s appointment. This means the municipality may not have received services.

The Hawks said there are further allegations that the municipality only advertised the bid for 13 days instead of the prescribed 30 days. Three other bidders were allegedly excluded irregularly.

The commercial crime investigation unit said there are allegations of contravention of procurement processes, fraud, and corruption relayed to this tender.

The connected businessman is also engaged in a legal battle with the Department of Home Affairs for allegedly being in possession of a fraudulently obtained ID document.

As for his political connection, he is credited as the person who assisted Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa after he was fired by the late Robert Mugabe.

He also has strong connections with many senior people at the Moses Kotane Local Municipality.

Now read: Corruption crackdown by the ANC

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Municipality paid R11 million for service which is free through Google Maps