Municipality paid R2 million for two laptops

The Hawks arrested a North West district municipal manager and businessman this week after a forensic report implicated them in corruption involving R134 million, including splurging R2 million on two laptops.

City Press reports that Bojanala Platinum District Municipality manager Patrick Shikwana and Marole-Nameng Trading Enterprise director Moses Malesa were charged with fraud in the Rustenburg Specialised Commercial Court following their apprehensions this week.

According to Hawks spokesperson Tinyiko Mathebula, Shikwana allegedly appointed Marole-Nameng Trading to supply the municipality with disaster relief equipment without following the correct processes.

The forensic report — compiled by Nexia SAB&T on behalf of the North West provincial treasury — found that the municipality was constantly overcharged for goods and services, including some which were never rendered or were unrelated to its business.

On top of that, it had used money that did not belong to it to pay for the items.

The alleged corruption occurred after an amount of R134,146,685 set aside for a housing project in Rustenburg was incorrectly transferred to Bojana municipality in March 2019.

Despite the provincial government discovering the error within 24 hours and instructing Bojanala to pay the money back to the Rustenburg Local Municipality, Bojanala used it to pay for various goods and services at inflated prices.

Shikwane had allegedly authorised several of these payments without following supply chain procedures.

Among the most astonishing discoveries was that it had bought two laptops at R1 million each.

Other exorbitant and suspicious transactions included:

  • R10 million paid to an events management company with no address.
  • R359,500 paid for lunch and transport of councillors from Rustenburg to Madibeng (65km distance) for a one-day ward committee meeting.
  • R299,500 spent on distribution of 60 food parcels in Moretele Local Municipality, working out to about R4,992 per parcel. There was no register as proof that the parcels were given to beneficiaries. For context, BusinessTech recently published a report showing the kind of meal and restaurant experience you can get for R4,000.
  • R500,000 given to local soccer team associated with Shikwane.

Shikwane and the municipality’s chief financial officer, Leslina Ndlovu, have blamed executive mayor Fetsang Mokati for the payments.

What the most expensive laptops cost

The specifications of the laptops bought by the district municipality are unknown.

However, even the most expensive high-performance laptops generally available on the market are nowhere near R1 million.

Gaming and creator laptops tend to be the priciest due to their powerful GPUs and high-end displays.

While it is also unclear how the laptops were intended to be used, it seems highly unlikely that the municipality would need one of these machines in its day-to-day operations.

Even if it did, a quick search for the most expensive laptops available from major online PC retailers in South Africa shows it should not have paid more than 15% of the R1 million to get one of the most capable systems on the market.

The most expensive MacBook from iStore is a 16-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Max chip, 32GB memory, and 1TB SSD, priced at R84,499.

The most expensive Windows laptop currently available from major online PC retailer Wootware is an MSI Titan GT77 that costs R124,999.

It boasts a 17.3-inch 4K MiniLED display with 144Hz refresh rate, 13th-gen 24-core Core i9 processor, GeForce RTX 4090 16GB GPU, 64GB DDR5 RAM, and 2TB of PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD storage.

MSI Titan GT77

On Evetech, the priciest model is an MSI CreatorPro X17 — which also packs a 4K 144Hz display, 13th-gen 24-core processor, and 64GB DDR5 RAM, but features the RTX A5000 workstation GPU, and 4TB of NVMe storage.

That configuration will set you back R149,999.

The most expensive laptop on the world’s biggest online store — Amazon.com — was priced at $8,999 (R170,289) at the time of publication.

It was also an MSI GT77 Titan, although it features an older Core i7 processor and RTX 3080 GPU.

One of the foremost global online PC retailers — Newegg — currently lists a $10,230 (R193,570) Asus ProArt StudioBook Pro 16 as its most expensive offering.

The prices might make sense if the laptops the municipality ordered were bespoke luxury models embedded with valuable gemstones.

According to TechCabal, the world’s most expensive laptop costs $3.5 million (R66.23 million), although it is not available on the general market.

That model is produced by luxury goods maker MJ and features a Swarovski crystal-studded back and diamond-studded trackpad, so it should not be procured for government functions.


Now read: Apple working on low-cost MacBooks

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Municipality paid R2 million for two laptops