Gauteng emerging contractor’s 16-year-long wait for justice ends in smiles

A Gauteng man's 16-year wait for justice ended in smiles on Wednesday when Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane handed over a R100 000 cheque in interest on the capital amount his company was owed for services rendered to the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.

In July 2015, the Public Protector released a report titled "The Cost of Disempowerment" in which she directed the City Manager to pay Mr Johannes Skhosana of Skhomajo Building Contractors an amount not less than R100 000.00, with moratory interest calculated from February 2001.

This followed an investigation into allegations of irregular withholding of the payment to Mr Skhosana, an emerging contractor, by the city’s predecessor, Greater Benoni City Council

The complaint was lodged with the Public Protector in 2001. Mr Skhosana had successfully tendered for the contract to build caretaker’s quarters and storerooms and to upgrade existing infrastructure in Daveyton.

He had completed the project and satisfied his contractual obligations but was not paid the full contracted amount of R342 000.00 by the Greater Benoni City Council.

In his complaint, Mr Skhosana had alleged that an amount of about R110 000. 00 was still owed to him. He had further complained that that the project, which had been intended to advance the interests of emerging building contractors, had left him financially crippled to the extent that he had not been able to recover or develop any opportunity to build as a contractor.

Following an investigation, the Public Protector found that Mr. Skhosana had been prejudiced by the Metro's withholding of payment of the full contract price, not only leaving a shortfall of R110 000.00 owed to him, but also putting him in a position where he was actually “disempowered”.

“[Mr Skhosana] was unable to carry over any benefits from the project to future endeavors that could have assisted in his development as an emerging contractor,” the Public Protector held at the time.

A year after the release of the report, in June 2016, the Metro paid Mr Skhosana the capital amount of R100 000. It would take a further seven months before the interests on the capital amount were paid to him.

On Friday, 03 February 2017, after 16 years of waiting for justice, the city informed the Public Protector that a cheque of the interest amount to the tune of R100 000 had been issued and was ready for collection.

Adv. Mkhwebane presented the cheque to a jubilant Mr Skhosana on Wednesday at her office in Pretoria. “I am elated. I feel much better now,” he said. “Please help other people, too. A lot of people I know in the rural areas complaint about their Identity Documents and related matters. I will tell them about your office.”

This development marked the second last step before “The Cost of Disempowerment” report is fully implemented. Only the city's written apology to Mr Skhosana is outstanding.

Adv. Mkhwebane said while public attention tends to be drawn to cases involving high profile people, it was cases such as that of Mr Skhosana that account for the majority of her office workload.

“These are people who do not have the financial muscle to litigate against the state,” she said. “We are their only hope. In this David versus Goliath kind of setting, we help by levelling the power imbalance between ordinary people and the state so that the likes of Mr Skhosana can vindicate their rights.”

For more information, contact:

Oupa Segalwe
Senior Manager: Communications
Public Protector South Africa
(012) 366 7035
072 264 3273

Published Date: 
Wednesday, February 8, 2017