City Mayor, Herman Mashaba, announced on Tuesdays that top managers at the Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA) including director Goodwill Mbatha have been suspended for tender irregularities.
This is after the board of the troubled agency adopted the findings of forensic investigation which implicated top management leading to a disciplinary process being initiated.
The investigation was launched after an expose by investigative channel, Carte Blanche (Mnet), early last year, uncovered recordings showing how a top JRA official tried to negotiate kickbacks from engineering contractors.
The alleged fraud and corruption in the department are believed to have led to the deterioration of the city’s infrastructure, with an estimated 94% of bridges in fair to extremely poor conditions.
Mashaba revealed that the city had appointed an external independent firm, Nexus, to handle the investigation into JRA and the probe was only finalised in February due to its volume.
It was found that the JRA managers including Mbatha, who was financial chief officer during the time, flouted provisions of the municipal Finance Act, most evident in the project to repair the M1 freeway’s double-decker bridge, which was awarded to civil engineering firm White Hazy Construction, in 2015.
The bid was found to be fraudulent, with claims about personnel and relevant experience falsified.
JRA decided to terminate the contract with White Hazy Construction after they failed to complete the work on the bridge.
A criminal case had been opened and a submission made to the National Treasury to blacklist the construction company as a service provider to the government, Mashaba explained.
“The stability of JRA is essential to the performance of the city in addressing the inherited backlogs in our road network with over 4,000 km of roads and over 700 bridges in poor condition,” Mashaba said.