High court sets aside Ndlambe’s RO plant tender

“The courts cannot and will not tolerate this type of improper conduct”

Ndlambe Municipality’s awarding of R100-million tender to build a sea water reverse osmosis (RO) plant on the banks of the Kowie River has been declared unlawful and overturned by the Grahamstown High Court.

Any agreement made between Ndlambe and its chosen contractor, Cape Town-based Quality Filtration Systems (QFS), the second respondent in the case, was also set aside by the court.

The case was brought by a losing bidder, Durban-based MEB Energy, alleging corruption in the tender process after their representatives were asked for a R1-milion bribe by someone claiming to work for the municipal manager.

MEB Energy also said it was inexplicable that the winning bidder, Quality Filtration Systems (QFS), had a price almost R90-million lower than theirs.

The company highlighted further irregularities in Ndlambe’s documents annexed to their answering affidavits.

In his decision handed down today, Judge P Zilwa said: “The conduct of the municipality fell far short of what is required of an organ of state, which is required to conduct itself openly, honestly and fairly.

“It has to be brought home firmly on the municipality that the courts cannot and will not tolerate this type of improper conduct on its part. Indeed the public good, in my view, is for this court to sharply show its disapproval of the manner in which the municipality has dealt this tender by setting aside the award. To do otherwise would send the wrong message and possibly encourage the municipality to repeat its improper conduct in future.”

QFS has to repay R20-million already paid to it by Ndlambe.

The municipality was ordered to pay the costs of the application.

The full story will be reported on in Talk of the Town this week.

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