More tender fraud: ABT Telecoms paid millions for doing nothing

Another irregular contract awarded by government has resulted in essential communications services to cut off for non payment. Mpumalanga premiere Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane’s office has reportedly been investigating tender fraud involving ABT Telecoms for some time. In the meantime, a company which was actually providing a legitimate service, has cut off essential public services such as clinics and police stations because the money it is owed has been paid to ABT Telecoms. The fraudulent firm has been unable to fulfil its contract because it doesn’t have the required licences or infrastructure to operate. The data company Dun& Bradstreet lists ABT telecoms as a Real Estate company and there is no official website for the firm. City Press reported that despite ABT Telecoms not having any resources to render the service, it has been paid R12.8bn over the last two months. MyBroadband writes about the latest developments. Melani Nathan

Telecoms company paid R13 million for doing nothing – Report

Staff Writer

(MyBroadband) – 76 Mpumalanga provincial government sites were left without telecommunications services despite the provider, ABT Telecoms, receiving R13m to deliver these services.

This is according to the City Press, which previously revealed the Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane’s office was investigating the allegedly irregular R265.3m tender awarded to ABT Telecoms. The previous telecoms provider, Kwa-Mahlaba Connect’s contract had expired in October, but it continued to render services in November. It switched off services on 2 December.

The money due to Kwa-Mahlaba Connect for these services, the City Press reported, was paid to ABT Telecoms. After Kwa-Mahlaba Connect switched off their services, numerous government sites, including hospitals, clinics, and police stations, were left without telecoms services.

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ABT Telecoms could reportedly not provide the promised services because it does not have the necessary telecoms licences or infrastructure. This, however, did not stop the government from paying ABT Telecoms R8.9m in November and another R3.9m on Christmas Eve.

These payments were made amidst the investigation by Mtsweni-Tsipane’s office into the legality of the appointment of ABT Telecoms. ABT Telecoms was first registered in 2002, but since then has changed names and directors numerous times. The current directors – Thulasizwe Nkumane, Duduzile Mzindle, and Muziwakhe Makhaye – have all been with the company since May 2017.

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The company’s official company registration information shows it is based in a residential property in the plush Steyn City estate. ABT Telecoms, however, has no active website and there is no clear track record of its previous telecoms endeavours.

MyBroadband contacted ABT Telecoms for comment, but the company did not respond by the time of publications.

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