State capture: R250m Bosasa contract 'money for doing nothing', says Dennis Bloem
Former Congress of the People MP Dennis Bloem has alleged that a lucrative R250m a year catering contract awarded to controversial facilities company Bosasa may have been a "money-laundering scheme".
He said Bosasa did little or nothing within the prisons after the department of correctional services (DCS) awarded it the contract in 2004.
Testifying at the state capture inquiry on Friday, Bloem said inmates were responsible for cooking and serving food at prisons, while one Bosasa official was "present in the middle of kitchens".
Bloem chaired parliament’s portfolio committee on correctional services between 2004 and 2009, as a member of the ANC.
"This catering tender was just a money-laundering scheme. Bosasa said they are going to take over the kitchens. The inmates were still doing the cooking; it was business as usual. There was no labour from Bosasa. I visited physically the prisons in the country," Bloem said.
"Who was supplying the food in the kitchens? We know that DCS has farms for meat, farms for vegetables, farms for chickens all over the country. They have farms to grow this food. We have asked this question. We have our own farms. Why is it that you are outsourcing now these things?"
Bloem said there would be no disruption to kitchen routines if Bosasa were to be removed from the prisons.
"The only thing Bosasa was doing was giving these inmates a certificate at the end of the year, saying it was for training," he said.
He estimated that Bosasa received about R1bn through various contracts with DCS.
"It was close to a billion or maybe more than a billion rands, these tenders that the department gave to Bosasa at that time. It is only seven prisons that were identified for this catering business. Later on, they rolled it out to other prisons, but not all the prisons … They targeted only the big prisons for this contract," he said.
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the inquiry, said if Bloem's allegations were true, DCS may have been paying Bosasa millions for "absolutely nothing".
"If the evidence we have heard is true, it would be very concerning," he said. "I hope the investigators can urgently establish whether, even as we speak, that is still the position in regard to the catering contract. If Bloem’s evidence is true and is corroborated, it may be that some urgent steps need to be taken by the relevant authority," Zondo said.
The commission continues.