Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Mystery of the Mpisane Millions

Well, no mystery perhaps..



Where is the money? Three weeks after receiving R30m from the eThekwini municipality, Durban couple S'bu and Shawn Mpisane have halted the completion of RDP housing projects in Umlazi. Photo: Sandile Ndlovu, The Star

The mystery of Mpisane millions

By Wendy Jasson da Costa

Just three weeks after receiving R30-million from the eThekwini municipality, high-flying Durban couple S'bu and Shawn Mpisane have halted the completion of RDP housing projects in Umlazi, apparently because they have no money to continue the work.

The R30m paid in December was part of a series of electronic payments amounting to about R219 million, which the company received from eThekwini last year.

The last payment of R4 785 720 was made on December 14, two weeks before their A-list, bling party on New Year's Eve.

Top-end whiskies and champagne flowed
That's when the big-spending former metro officer and his politically connected wife dazzled friends at their luxurious La Lucia home.

Top-end whiskies and champagne flowed, while they splurged on special thrones and showed off their new Rolls-Royce. Guests included national police commissioner Bheki Cele.


While Shawn Mpisane, daughter of the late ANC local councillor Dumazile Flora Mkhize, is the one who was granted the Umlazi housing contract, it is her husband, Wiseman Sibusiso (S'bu), who has been the focus of media attention.

While working as a metro police constable, with a salary of less than R15 000 a month, Mpisane raised eyebrows by arriving at work in a Lamborghini and living in a R17 million mansion.

This week, he made headlines of a different kind when The Mercury's news editor, Philani Makhanya, laid a complaint of intimidation against him. The alleged intimidation came after Mpisane became aware The Mercury was investigating his affairs.

'Eish, school has started and we can't take the children to school'
On Monday, workers of Shawn Mpisane's Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport company, as well as those employed by sub-contractors, in Umlazi, were told to go home because the company allegedly had no money to continue their work.

An estimated 1 300 people, many from Umlazi, and their families have been affected, according to Ward 79 councillor Sthenjwa Nyawose.

Mpisane had told him her company had received no money from the municipality since October.

Despite repeated attempts to interview Shawn Mpisane, she failed to return calls to The Mercury as promised.

As a result of the job and housing uncertainty, Nyawose described the situation in the township as "volatile but calm".

"We are very angry, the councillors of Umlazi are fuming," he said. "As we speak, the project is not going on because the contractor has not been paid. The problem is the municipality is not coming up with the money."

Contradicting this, however, documentary records in The Mercury's possession indicate that more than R50 million was paid by the municipality to Zikhulise in November and December.

Municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe confirmed a total of "around R300 million" had been paid to Zikhulise over 18 months and said the project had been completed in mid-December.

The project involved building low-cost cost RDP houses on 4 500 sites in Umlazi B10, KwaMgaga and Umlazi Infill.

The Mercury has documentary proof that a total of R219 930 939 was electronically transferred from eThekwini to Zikhulise in 2009. In December alone, four payments totalling about R30 million were made.

Nyawose said thousands of houses were still under construction or to be built in Umlazi, contradicting Sutcliffe's statement that all work had been completed.

Sutcliffe explained that some funding was usually paid in advance. "Contractors submit claims based on work done; the city's professional team verify that and if such work has been done, payments are then made," he said.

Like Nyawose, Sutcliffe confirmed that the development was initially a provincial project which the municipality was asked to take over.

"In August, 2006, eThekwini municipality resolved to take over the project and become the developer and further agreed that the professional team and contractors... be kept for the duration of the project."

But just months after construction, some of the houses were crumbling, The Mercury established during a field trip.

The houses were not plastered or painted. Some had no toilets, taps, baths or showers.

An eight-member family living in a leaking, three-roomed house said their biggest concern was how they would eat. Only two members of the family were employed, one by Zikhulise and the other by one of its sub-contractors.

"Eish, school has started and we can't take the children to school because we have no money," said one woman.

Another angry man said the houses were of a poor quality because workers were told to rush their work.

6 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Another successful African entrepreneurial story.

WHITEADDER said...

Would be more honest to give the money straight away to the black ANC elite without asking them to pretend to have done anything in return.

white-southafrican said...

Just follow the spoor and surely somewhere you will find some high ANC croney politcal figure. After he got his cut, there simply was not enough left to do the project...typical RSA scenario.

Anonymous said...

Why don't these Umlazi residents grab hold of the Mpisanes and necklace them in public? That would send rather a strong message to every other politician trying on this stunt.

soupy said...

waBenzi

Anonymous said...

Why does the DBN Metro drag their feet when they investigate corruption.

There is talk from within the Metro that the big 3(Top 3 officials in the metro are on retainers(R40k per month) from their business friends
Remant Alton,Priander Civils,Transcreation,.Why does Sutcliff defends them without investigation.