Firm appeals police tender ruling

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

Smally Trading Company has appealed a High Court ruling dismissing its bid to nullify a contract government entered into with four firms for the supply of police uniforms.

The company had initially approached the High Court on 14 April 2016 contesting the contract between the government and Lekhotla Matšaba, Cubana Shells, Cubana Shells Holdings (Pty) Ltd and Naledi Outdoor Advertising (Pty) Ltd.

Smally Trading Company also wanted the court to stop the Ministry of Police’s Procurement Unit, Deputy Principal Secretary, Commissioner of Police and Ministry of Police and Public Safety, from disbursing any funds to the aforementioned firms pending the finalisation of the case.

However, Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane dismissed the application with costs on 19 April 2016, stating the court had no jurisdiction to hear the application because there was a mandatory procedure the applicant should have followed before approaching the court.

Justice Chaka-Makhooane said Smally Trading Company did not comply with provisions of the Public Procurement Regulations 2007 before approaching the High Court.

Regulation 54, sub-regulation one, requires anyone with a legitimate interest in the contract to submit a written complaint to the Ministry of Police’s Procurement Unit within three calendar months after the awarding of the contract.

However, Smally Trading Company legal representatives, Phoofolo Associates, filed a notice of appeal on Monday in which the company argued “the learned judge erred in holding that the court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter”.

“The learned judge could not have arrived at the conclusion that the court did not have jurisdiction because no evidence had been furnished on affidavits by any of the respondents to motivate the submission,” reads part of the grounds of appeal.

Acting Deputy Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Police Ezekiel Senti said last week after the court victory that the tender process had been above board.

SACP Senti said the complaint lodged by Smally Trading Company had come as a surprise as they had done everything by the book.

“It is our responsibility to see that Basotho also get a fair share of the spoils in developing this country’s economy,” he said.

“Basotho should be given priority when such tenders are available, unlike in the old days when we used to order our uniforms from London.”

Asked to comment on the appeal yesterday, SACP Senti referred the Lesotho Times to the ministry’s public relations office.

There was no immediate comment from the office in question.

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