Owner of firm given R4.8m for no work done claims to be in the dark about probe into the payment, Newsline

Johannesburg – The owner of CulArt Productions claims to be in the dark over ongoing investigations into the R4.8 million monument tender awarded to his company.

This comes after the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) mysteriously opted for an investigation into the project despite appointing and paying the service provider.

Lethole Mokoena’s company was awarded the multi-million rand tender in 2017 to erect a sculpture for fallen miners in Joburg. The project was commissioned by the MHSC.

September 2020 marked three years since Mokoena entered into an agreement with the government entity but the statue is yet to be placed on its allocated site. Mokoena confirmed he received the money and said the delay lay with the MHSC.

“We have never denied receiving money from this project. There is nothing to hide from my side, once a site for the monument has been identified we will deliver,” he said.

City of Johannesburg spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane recently indicated the city identified Main Street Mall as a suitable location for the monument and the MHSC was supposed to take the project forward.

MHSC stakeholder Masanda Peter has told The Star twice that it is investigating the project.

The stakeholder would not give any clarification on investigations.

“I don’t know of any investigations, this is news to me. I am transparent and the council has never alerted me of any investigations. I don’t even know if they are investigating me.”

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe recently raised alarm bells on the project when his parliamentary oral response to the DA indicated that the project manager finalised the contract prematurely.

“When invoice was sent to MHSC it was discovered that work had started prior to the finalisation of the contract,” Mantashe’s oral response read.

This came after allegations that Mokoena’s company pocketed R444 600 before signing the contract with the council.

Mantashe’s oral response revealed that the project manager responsible was issued with a verbal warning.

“The project manager was engaged on this anomaly, which was not in accordance with the internal process, and after considering the explanation provided, she was issued with verbal warning on condition that all the project contracts for awarded projects were finalised before any work can be done or payments effected.”

However, Mokoena has strongly denied claims that his company received an upfront payment before signing the contract.

According to a contract The Star has seen, Mokoena signed a contract with the council in August 2017 and received his only payment on September 20. The publication has also seen an invoice Mokoena sent to the council dated September 6.

“I honestly do not know of any R444 600 that came my way before signing this contract,” he clarified.

Since 2017 three locations have been identified for the monument.

The MHSC and Mineral Resources Department did not respond to enquiries by publication.

The Star