Millions in losses and tender irregularities have been exposed in the City of Cape Town as a spat in the mayor’s office has spilled over to three top executives facing suspension, including city manager, Achmat Ebrahim.
Patricia de Lille’s top aid has accused her of refusing to investigate the irregularities raised by forensic audits into tenders of the Transport and Urban Development Authority.
This includes R43 million lost in MyCiti bus fares, due to the city’s failure to properly manage the contracts of the two service providers.
It’s alleged that cashiers manipulated equipment and circumvented processes to misappropriate the cash.
Another forensic report found that the city made an irregular advance payment of R43 million for the chassis of Volvo buses in 2014, when the tender was for fully manufactured buses.
In an affidavit by executive director Craig Kesson put before a special closed-door meeting of council on Tuesday, Kesson says he repeatedly pointed out mismanagement and tender irregularities to De Lille, but she brushed him off when he suggested that concerns raised in the forensic reports be further investigated and reported to council.
Kesson has gone as far as to suggest that De Lille has been protecting Transport Commissioner Melissa Whitehead.
Kesson says concerns about misconduct involving Whitehead were sparked by a forensics presentation on the MyCiti bus stations tender in June, when the losses incurred through the fare system came to light.
He says legal advice from Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr recommended that the conduct of Whitehead and Ebrahim be investigated.
“When I tried to present the attorneys’ opinion to the mayor, the mayor did not wish to receive it and said that we needed to make the issue 'go away' and that the matter should not reach the Council.”
Kesson maintains that De Lille maintained a similar stance on Whitehead’s irregular involvement in the Foreshore Freeway tender.
Independent consultants Moore Stephens, who advise the city on tender matters, criticised Whitehead’s participation and conduct on the bid evaluation committee.
“The mayor stated that the allegations would neither be investigated nor reported to the council,” Kesson says in his affidavit.
“She said we should all be team players and not make accusations.”
De Lille says that she was not given the opportunity to respond to the affidavit after it was deposed to her deputy, Ian Neilson, but she has instructed her lawyers to provide a response before the end of the week.
Kesson, Whitehead and Ebrahim have all been given seven days to provide reasons to the council why they should not be placed on precautionary suspension while disciplinary steps are taken.