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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Public Works official axed over kickbacks

Thulas Nxesi

INLSA

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi

Johannesburg –

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi has cracked the whip on fraud and corruption in his Joburg office, firing an official for accepting a car and payments from companies doing business with the department.

Thabo Thomas Moagi became the first Department of Public Works official to be dismissed since Nxesi made public his plans to root out corruption in his office.

Moagi was dismissed after being found guilty of accepting payments of R260 000 and a vehicle worth R254 000 from the companies of a businessman, whose name is known to The Star, who was awarded 11 lease tenders three years go.

Moagi was originally charged with his colleague Desmond Simamane for having private dealings with the businessman. But Simamane resigned when the disciplinary hearing started.

He was accused of having received a Nissan double-cab worth R566 250 and various payments totalling R635 000 from the businessman.

Moagi was employed as senior administration officer and project manager in the Joburg regional office. He was earning less than R10 000.

During the official’s disciplinary hearing, a former Special Investigating Unit member, Marius Giani, testified that he had conducted a lifestyle audit on both Moagi and the businessman with whom he had private dealings.

Giani said he had found that Moagi owned a R1.5 million property in Krugersdorp and had taken out a R1.2m bond, which was registered on April 4 last year.

On January 13, Moagi’s monthly net salary was R9 778.36.

Giani also explained how he had linked the businessman to Moagi’s vehicle.

Moagi, who started working for the Public Works Department on March 1, 2004, occasionally served on the bid evaluation committee that participated in the process of adjudicating and awarding lease tenders. He pleaded not guilty to four counts of misconduct.

The disciplinary hearing in April found Moagi to have benefited from his relationship with the businessman.

The department’s legal adviser, Phillip Masilo, said the department’s lease review had linked Moagi and Simamane to 28 leases awarded to companies owned by the businessman.

Some buildings had never been occupied, but the department paid for the duration of the leases.

None of the leases were advertised.

Masilo said Moagi had been a project manager in all the transactions in which the businessman’s companies had been granted new leases or had existing leases extended.

Masilo said Moagi had also played an important role in the process leading to the renewal or granting of new leases.

“It was also revealed that Moagi [had] received two payments of R130 000 each from one of the companies owned by the businessman.

“From [April 4] 2007, Moagi had also started using the VW Golf 5 that was purchased by one of the companies of the businessman.

“The company traded one of its vehicles for R70 000 when it purchased the vehicle for Moagi… [He] failed to declare to the Department of Public Works that he was using the vehicle that had been purchased by one of the companies that won tenders,” Masilo said.

The department said

Moagi had denied that the businessman or his companies had bought him the car.

He said he had planned to repay him and produced a contract that he had entered with a certain businessman. The document stated that Moagi would make monthly payments of R2 500 from May 1, 2007 to June 1, 2012. But the hearing found that Moagi could not produce any receipts for the repayments, and the author of the document was never called to testify.

Masilo said Moagi had indicated that the two R130 000 payments had been for services his private property company, Cujo Property, had rendered.

But the hearing found that Cujo had not done any business with the company that had made the payments.

Moagi also did not have receipts for the alleged transactions, nor did he hand in supporting invoices.

Several attempts to obtain comment from Moagi and Simamane were fruitless.

[email protected]

The Star

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Public Works official axed over kickbacks

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