The embattled City of Tshwane has suspended one of its senior managers for alleged irregularities relating to the appointment of catering service providers for homeless people during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The city says the supply chain as well as procurement processes were not followed in acquiring catering services from the 34 small business operators, mostly caterers. The businesses are now claiming about R19 million from the city.

About 2 000 homeless people are being accommodated at various shelters around Tshwane since the outbreak of COVID-19.

They receive three meals per day rendered by numerous small business operators and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). The city says payments for catering work will only be made once the investigation is complete and after individual businesses have submitted valid invoices for the services they’ve rendered.

The City’s Administrator, Mpho Nawa, adressed the media in Pretoria.

“The demand was almost R20 million to be paid from March to June and service providers were already claiming that but supply chain management appeared to have been blatantly disregarded there was no compliance. So we instituted a forensic investigation. So I must say without going into details that there were people who have no invoices but just say you owe me. Some very clear that the service provision was not provided,” says Nawa.

No resolution in sight in dispute between City of Tshwane and caterers:

Caterers demand payments 

Earlier, a group of angry service providers, mostly caterers stormed the venue where the media briefing was to be held and disrupted the procceedings. They demanded to be paid with immediate effect.

“They owe us a lot of money. We did shopping and everything but we have not been paid. They owe us R1.2 million each and its various businesses,” says a service provider.

“They owe me R900 000. I lost everything. House, car and shop. I have to reduce the number of workers. Children are not going to school because I do not have money. Every day they say they will pay us,” says another service provider.

However, the city’s Chief Audit Executive Moeketsi Ntsimane says they will have to wait a little longer for the probe to be concluded before any payments could be processed.

Ntsimane says this is to make sure that only those who have sufficient proof for having rendered catering services are paid.

“We’ve already spent six weeks validating invoices. Some have been concluded and hoping that in the next two months will be concluded completely in as far as the city’s internal investigation is concerned. Our investigation won’t wait for SIU,” says Ntsimane.

While the city is currently conducting its own internal investigation, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the Hawks are also busy with seperate but related probes. Ten senior city officials are being investigated.

The City of Tshwane has been placed under administrators by the Gauteng Provincial Government since March this year following allegations of rampant corruption and maladministration.

Payment war between City of Tshwane and Caterers reach a boiling point: