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Outrage over R5m contract for padlocks

Durban – It could be that all the keys were lost, or maybe the Q20 was finished, but the eThekwini municipality has forked out R4.9 million in contracts for new padlocks.

The bill has opposition parties spluttering into their tea, but municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said the contracts were for electricity padlocks and had been awarded to PDT Ironmongery Suppliers cc and Assa Abloy SA (Pty) Ltd.

No one knows what happened to the old ones.

PDT Ironmongery Suppliers is to provide 18 000 customer distribution unit padlocks, 4 200 meter room locks and 9 000 sub-station locks.

Assa Abloy SA’s contract was for 400 high-security stainless steel padlocks, Mofokeng said.

He said the customer distribution unit padlocks, meter room locks and sub-station locks were “not standard padlocks available to the public”.

“These padlocks are designed with specific dimensions, material and keyway, and have to be able to withstand the weather conditions for longer periods, and cannot be copied or cut by any locksmith. The price is market-related and deemed by the department to be fair and reasonable,” he said.

Nevertheless, DA councillor Rick Crouch is furious.

A report presented to the the finance and procurement committee meeting last month contained numerous dodgy contract awards, he said.

Those for the padlocks were most disturbing because officials were unable to justify the spending.

“How many padlocks did we receive for almost R5m?”

The only response given by officials was that the contract was for three years, Crouch said.

None of the officials from the supply chain management unit could explain what the padlocks were for.

“The problem is that reports are sent to us after the fact, and we have no oversight role. We don’t get to interrogate the tender awards until the deal is closed. There is absolutely no transparency in this municipality.”

Minority Front councillor Patrick Pillay said it was “suspicious” because the report provided no details.


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