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Will Corruption end? Municipality purchased hand sanitizers at R175 per 500ml bottle and paid R50 per face mask through a tender

Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) has procured hand sanitisers for its staff at R175 per 500ml bottle, pricing some have criticised as excessive. The municipality paid R50 apiece for surgical face masks, which normally sell for less than R20.

The company awarded this work was IC Bane Trading, a company that, according to the government database, is owned by Nombulelo Mantini, a politically well-connected businesswoman.

DispatchLIVE received the information from a source who said the municipality had accepted what they knew “was not right”.

“We have seen things happening but this is total theft and the sanitisers were way too expensive. This is what the ministers have warned about, the Covid-19 corruption. I leaked these documents for the province to know how bad this is,” said the politician, who wanted to remain anonymous.

DispatchLIVE managed to verify the source of the documents and Mantini confirmed her company had supplied the municipality with sanitising items at the amounts charged.

Her company invoiced the district municipality more than R175,000 for 500 bottles of sanitiser, 1,000 pairs of gloves, 1,000 units of soap, 500 masks, 100 buckets with a tip tap and 120 20-litre containers with tip taps.

These items were invoiced to the municipality as follows:

  • Sanitiser 500ml @ R175,00
  • Gloves @ R4,48
  • Lifebuoy soap @ R17,49
  • Masks @ R50,00
  • Bucket with tip tap @ R126,00
  • 20-litre container with tip tap @ R140,00

The company was paid R87,500 for 500 sanitisers and R25,000 for 500 masks, among other items.

Asked if her goods were overpriced, Mantini said she was not privy to the quotations submitted by other companies. “I cannot answer your question regarding quotes — that would be for the municipality to respond to. However I can respond regarding my pricing, which I consider reasonable,” she said.

She explained the reasons for her prices: “First, the sanitisers had to be bottled and the packaging is sourced from Durban. Given the period when this was required, the urgency with which those were needed among other things, one had to travel to fetch the goods from Durban, as opposed to merely ordering and receiving by courier. Secondly, other factors considered in my pricing were that prices had gone up from the supplier due to scarcity of alcohol in the country.”

She said prices for similarly sized sanitiser bottles ranged between R145 and R175.

“So once again I believe that taking into consideration the above factors, my pricing was reasonable.”

Chris Hani district municipal manager Gcobani Mashiyi said the municipality had followed supply chain management regulations. After the proclamation of  a national disaster, National Treasury had stipulated procurement regulations during the Covid-19 period.

He said the value of the products could never be compared to that of the lives that had to be saved.

“The municipality had to swiftly act to avoid a serious and unexpected situation that posed an immediate risk to health and life of CHDM citizens and its employees,” said Mashiyi.

“Among the service providers that were considered, the one that quoted at R175 including delivery was awarded. This decision was informed by the urgent need for sanitisers  to ensure safety of staff and all our areas of operation throughout the district.”

However, some local business owners in the district complained about the “rip-off”. Komani businessman Siyabulela Qwalela said it was disappointing to see companies charging big money for something that could be bought and manufactured locally.

“The normal price for that size of sanitiser bottle is R45 to R50. This is a rip-off and the municipality on their IDP says they will use local suppliers but that is not happening,” said Qwalela.

A local businesswoman sent DispatchLIVE her company’s price list for sanitisers. The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous as she does business with the municipality, said what IC Bane had charged seemed expensive and needed investigation.

“I am selling a litre of sanitiser for R120,00 and I would have sold that 500ml for between R60 and R65 after I’d added my 30% markup. Normally, this could sell for between R40 and R50. This is corruption because this municipality should have asked other local companies to support (them),” said the businesswoman.

An East London retailer this week was selling 500ml sanitiser for R98.

IC Bane also supplied Covid-19-related  goods to the Eastern Cape department of roads and transport. People, according to Mantini, had started spreading rumours that her company had received R26m from the department.

“I have not received payment from the department as yet. I’m still awaiting payment of my invoice of R259,500 —  contrary to public allegations of R26m paid to my business account.”

Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane has instructed provincial Treasury to conduct a forensic investigation into the allegations.

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