Three senior Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) officials, accused of illegally using their positions to benefit from a R255 million IT subcontract, were granted R10 000 bail by the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday.
Former court operations director Yvonne van Niekerk, OCJ spokesperson, chief director of court administration Nathi Mncube, and chief financial officer and bid adjudication committee chairperson Casper Coetzer face charges of contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca).
The contract was awarded to multinational media and technology company Thomson Reuters.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said the contract was related to the national online CaseLines management system.
She said further allegations are that during the negotiations to renew the contract for the CaseLines online court management system, Coetzer appointed Van Niekerk and Mncube to the bid specification committee and price negotiations team respectively, with the intention of successfully negotiating a bid for a subcontract to a company called ZA Square Consulting.
They were listed as directors in the company.
Mjonondwane said all three stood to benefit 30% from the R225m contract they were negotiating on behalf of the OCJ, and investigations established that though all accused disclosed that they were directors of ZA Square Consulting, they indicated in their disclosures that the company was dormant.
On June 1, 2022, they started in their new positions as directors of ZA Square Consulting, acting as local partners to Thomson Reuters. They were reportedly set to earn at least R67.5m through the subcontract.
The matter will return to court on February 7 next year for disclosure of the contents of the docket.
In June last year, the OCJ issued a statement saying it was in the process of gathering all relevant information on the matter and was taking legal advice.
“At the appropriate time, the OCJ will inform the public on the matter. We can assure the public that the state funds relating to this matter are safe. In view of this, the OCJ will not at this stage be making further comments or providing any additional information in this regard.”