A vital lifeline to the driest parts of the north-western reaches of South Africa has been in the spotlight with allegations of tender fraud made against two top officials, leading to their suspension.
Tradewin Takalani, the chief executive of a water utility that serves large swathes of three central provinces, is in hot water over a contract that ballooned from R460,000 to R2.7-million.
The contract was allegedly awarded after Takalani and another senior official received a "loan" from the beneficiary company to buy a petrol station.
Sedibeng Water, based in Bothaville, serves about two million people in Free State, North West and Northern Cape across an area stretching 100,000 square kilometres.
The allegations are among a raft of claims made against Takalani contained in two forensic reports commissioned by the water utility after it had received an anonymous tip-off letter detailing his alleged financial shenanigans.
The forensic reports, now the subject of disciplinary charges against Takalani and senior official Moses Lebitso, contain allegations of fraud, nepotism, bribery and abuse of power, and involve amounts of more than R275-million.
Lawyers for both men said they denied wrongdoing.
Despite being in possession of detailed charge sheets,...