eThekwini must come clean about shenanigans at Durban Solid Waste

Democratic Alliance media statement by Nicole Graham, CLLR

DA EThekwini Caucus Leader


eThekwini must come clean about shenanigans at Durban Solid Waste


The Democratic Alliance in eThekwini is deeply concerned about the state of Durban Solid Waste (DSW). The unit is seemingly in chaos after a forensic report highlighting shocking irregularities in the awarding of the orange bag recycling contract became public in February.

In March, DA Provincial Leader Zwakele Mncwango handed the report over to the Hawks to investigate the findings with regards to the alleged criminal conduct of the contractors, Persian Star Investments 11 CC. The report also recommended that action is to be taken against the Deputy Head of DSW, Robert Abbu and a second official from Supply Chain Management.

After receiving confirmation from City Integrity and Investigation Unit that the report had been handed to the relevant departments for action, I wrote to the Head of DSW, Raymond Rampersad, and requested to know whether officials had been suspended and what course of action they were following. He replied simply to say that no one had been suspended.

I was then informed that Mr Rampersad was on leave from 11 April to 13 July 2018 and that I should speak to the Municipal Manager. I have accordingly submitted full questions to him in writing, seeking to understand whether Mr Abbu and other implicated officials will be suspended or acted against, why Mr Rampersad is suddenly on three months’ worth of leave and what the current status is of the forensic report into the awarding of the orange bag contract. I have not received a response to date.

Things became even murkier during yesterday’s Executive Committee Meeting when Mayor Zandile Gumede alluded to DSW and made veiled comments to the effect that she was not satisfied but now there is a ‘woman’ there who will ‘sort things out’. No further clarity on who this woman is and in what capacity she is employed was given.

The city’s leadership needs to come clean about what’s going on at Durban Solid Waste. Who is being hired and fired, who is implicated in what, and when those who are implicated in this R90 million scandal will be held accountable.

The orange bag recycling program was once an award-winning program that serviced almost a million households in eThekwini every week. It was reported to be diverting 14 400 million tons per year of paper and plastic from landfill sites, making it an incredible environmental success.

The forensic report alleges that Persian Star Investments 11 CC fraudulently misrepresented their capacity to deliver on the contract and that when the contract was awarded and this became clear, officials assisted in finding a supplementary contractor to assist Persian Star instead of cancelling the contract as they should have. It is a woeful tale of how something Durban residents were once so proud of, is now completely and unethically destroyed.

The level of service that residents across the city receive from DSW, this forensic report, and the events of the past two weeks, all point to the same conclusion: that something has gone seriously wrong at DSW. DSW is key to the health, dignity and wellbeing of every eThekwini resident and it’s critical that the city’s leader gets a handle on this matter as soon as possible.

The DA requires answers to these very serious questions, and will not allow this report to be swept under the rug. The people of eThekwini deserve better, they deserve a Total Change under a DA government.

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