Police’s Firearms Registry contract probed by Hawks

| Daneel Knoetze
National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega was questioned by MPs on Tuesday about the botched firearms control system contract. Photo by Daneel Knoetze.

After paying R340 million for a Firearms Control System that was not delivered, the SA Police Service has cancelled its contract with IT company Waymark Infotech. The botched contract is subject to a criminal investigation by the Hawks.

On Tuesday, Parliament’s police portfolio committee grilled Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega about the lack of clarity over the police’s stalled R412 million contract with Waymark Infotech for the development of a Firearms Control System (FCS).

Phiyega’s team blamed the botched contract, and the shambles in the Central Firearms Registry, for failing to register new firearms acquired by the police during the 2013-2014 financial year.

Phiyega and a team of high-ranking police officers were giving feedback on the SA Police Service recently tabled annual report, in which the Auditor-General reported that more than half the gun licensing applications processed at the Central Firearm Registry were not available for audit.

Last week, GroundUp exposed the details of the police’s multi-million rand contract with Waymark for the development of a firearms control system.

The job ballooned in cost and the deadline for completion, initially set for July 2006, was consistently pushed back. A report by the AG in January last year stated that the contract with Waymark had been “placed on hold” in 2012, pending an internal investigation.

Yet, details on this investigation and recent dealings between the company and the police have remained shrouded in mystery. Neither the police nor Waymark responded to GroundUp’s queries before last week’s article.

Police portfolio committee member Pieter Groenewald yesterday demanded an update and clarity on the contract and investigation.

“It is unacceptable to hear that the investigation is still ongoing, and that there is nothing to report,” he said.

“That investigation was started in 2012, and it is now 2014. Can we please get answers? The Commissioner should commit to giving feedback on the investigation by latest next week.”

Phiyega had confirmed that the investigation was a “criminal investigation” being conducted by the the Hawks. She did not provide further details but she promised to request an update from the police’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) and to give feedback to the committee next week.

Phiyega’s spokesman, Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale, confirmed to GroundUp that Waymark had started court proceedings to claim “outstanding funds” from the police. He also emailed a detailed response to GroundUp’s original queries, in which the police blamed the failure of the FCS on Waymark’s request for a fifth addendum to the contract. Four previous addenda, between March 2005 and February 2007, led to the deadline for the system handover being pushed back various times and resulted in the cost climbing from around R93 million to R412 million.

“The development was not completed as contemplated in the FCS contract (because) Waymark requested a further addendum for which SAPS and Waymark could not reach an agreement,” Makgale said.

The amount and basis for the claim for “outstanding funds” was not divulged.

Waymark’s Joel Mpshe previously declined to comment on the “legal discussions” taking place with the police.

“We are thus not at liberty to discuss the matter as it may jeopardise those discussions and any disclosure will have future legal implications for both parties,” he said.

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