DPWI welcomes judgment on irregular Beitbridge border fence project

9th March 2022 By: Darren Parker

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) has welcomed the judgment handed down by Special Tribunal Judge Lebogang Modiba on March 8 in relation to the controversial Beitbridge border fence project, in which contractors Caledon River Properties and Profteam were paid R40-million to erect a fence under Covid-19 emergency procurement protocols in 2020.

The fence contracts were found to have been irregular following an investigation by the DPWI and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), resulting in Modiba ordering the profits accruing to the contractors from the project to be repaid to the DPWI.

Modiba said “it is just and equitable to apply the no profit and no loss principle” and dismissed the right of the contractors to retain the profits arising from the contracts.

The DPWI acknowledged Modiba’s mention of further corrective measures that lay in holding to account “the officials who designed, approved and implemented the Beit Bridge Border Fence Project and its related procurement process and those who failed to take the appropriate steps to enhance the integrity of the fence”.

In response to these further corrective accountability measures, DPWI acting director-general Imtiaz Fazel confirmed that the State had concluded its case in the majority of disciplinary hearings against implicated DPWI employees in February.

The defendant employees have until April 8 to finalise their response to the State’s case.

In addition to these disciplinary processes, Fazel offered the Engineering Council of South Africa the DPWI’s full cooperation to investigate the conduct of professional engineers who were involved in the matter.

“I wish to assure our employees and the wider public that the DPWI is committed to clean governance and enacting consequence management where necessary,” he said on March 9.

He acknowledged the assistance and bravery of the State’s witnesses from the DPWI, the SIU and the National Treasury in the disciplinary hearings.

“As the DPWI works to improve delivery, communication and consequence management, we are seeking to play our part in rebuilding the confidence and trust that South Africans have in their government,” he concluded.