Three former Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) directors have denied wrongdoing after they quit their jobs to run a company subcontracting to a supplier that won a lucrative IT deal with their former employer, Sunday Times reports.
Former OCJ chief financial officer Casper Coetzer, former case management director Yvonne van Niekerk, and former spokesperson and chief director of court administration Nathi Mncube reportedly started their new jobs on 1 June 2022.
They are directors of ZA Square Consulting, which received a contract from Thompson Reuters to roll out its digital case management and litigation system CaseLines for the OCJ.
The contract will be executed over six years.
According to The Sunday Times, the trio will earn 30% of the contract’s value — roughly R67.5 million.
The OCJ confirmed all three former employees had been involved in the tender.
It said it was taking legal advice over the issue. However, Sunday Times reported this only happened after it had queried the contract.
Thomson Reuters stated it had no direct contact with any of the three directors of ZA Square during the bidding but had dealt with the government directly.
Thomson Reuters said it appointed ZA Square after the company had responded to an advertisement for a local partner.
The multinational news giant also launched an investigation into the matter but emphasised that it had broken no laws with the contract.
According to Companies and Intellectual Property Commission records, ZA Square Consulting was registered on 15 December 2021.
Thomson Reuters had advertised for a local partner in January 2022.
Speaking on behalf of the trio, Mncube denied allegations of irregularities.
“We did not approve the Thomson Reuters main tender as we had no authority to do so,” Mncube told MyBroadband.
“The prescribed process of a sole-source procurement was followed by OCJ which included separate specification, evaluation and adjudication committees.”
Mncube added that public servants were not prohibited from owning private companies.
“In terms of Regulation 18 of the Public Service Regulations, 2016, all strategic management services members are required to disclose their financial interests to their relevant head of department not later than 30 April of each year,” Mncube said.
“This process requires senior management officials to disclose if they own private companies, amongst other things, if so whether such companies were generating an income.”
“All ZA Square directors accordingly declared their interest at the designated time.”
Mncube said when ZA Square was registered and decided to submit a proposal to Thomson Reuters, there was “absolutely” no conflict of interest.
“We declared as such to Thomson Reuters as well,” he stated.
He said Thomson Reuters won the main contract before ZA Square engaged in any communication with the company.
“We registered the company and only thereafter decided to enquire about the process to follow if we were interested in submitting a proposal,” Mncube said.
MyBroadband contacted Thomson Reuters for comment, but it did not respond by the time of publication.