South Africa: President Orders Probe into Failed Tshwane Water Project - South African News Briefs - September 26, 2023

Three sites tested for water quality in Hammanskraal which saw an outbreak of cholera.
26 September 2023


President Orders Probe into R290 Million Botched Tshwane Water Project

President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate a R290 million tender connected to businessman Edwin Sodi, which failed to refurbish a crucial waste treatment plant in Tshwane, reports News24. The investigation will cover unauthorised, irregular, or wasteful expenditures incurred by the Tshwane Municipality in relation to the tender for upgrading the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works. This comes after a cholera outbreak claimed 23 lives in Hammanskraal, with the origin still unknown. The Rooiwal Waste Treatment Plant, despite the tender awarded to Sodi's company, Blackhead Consulting, remained in poor condition. The terms of reference for the SIU investigation include serious maladministration, improper conduct by officials, and illegal use of public funds or property. The SIU will also aim to recover losses incurred by the municipality from the businesses involved in the tender. Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink welcomed the proclamation and took steps to blacklist the companies awarded the tender from doing business with the city.

Only 175 Lawyers Barred from Practising Despite 21,123 Complaints

Attorney Steven Gqeba received a R15.2 million state medical negligence payout for a severely disabled child three years ago, but only R50,000 of that amount had been deposited into a trust for the now nine-year-old girl, reports News24. Gqeba is one of 310 lawyers suspended by the Legal Practice Council (LPC) due to serious misconduct allegations, and he faces possible removal from the roll of attorneys. This case highlights a broader issue, the news site reports, with 14 Eastern Cape lawyers under investigation for mishandling multimillion-dollar settlements for children disabled by state negligence. The LPC has faced criticism for its handling of such cases, with concerns about delays in taking action against lawyers accused of wrongdoing. The LPC defends its processes and argues that not all complaints warrant striking lawyers from the roll. However, critics argue that the delays harm vulnerable individuals, and there are growing calls for better protection of victims in such cases.

Wildfire Devastates Mabalingwe Game Reserve

A massive wildfire has torn through Mabalingwe Game Reserve in the Waterberg mountains just outside Bela Bela, reports TimesLIVE. The fire has destroyed at least 56 private houses, a bush camp, and one timeshare chalet. A staff member assisting with firefighting efforts suffered severe burns and is receiving treatment in hospital. Dry and windy conditions have made firefighting efforts difficult, and there is a risk of further dangerous fires sparking. The impact on animals within the reserve is still being assessed, but the reserve estimates that 6,000 hectares of grazing has been consumed. All guests and residents staying on the reserve over the weekend were evacuated. The fire has since been brought under control on the reserve, but firefighters are still on the scene managing the fire in the greater Bela-Bela area.

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