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Contractor ‘elated’ after public protector hands over cheque to bring 16-year payment battle with council to an end

On Wednesday‚ she handed over a R100 000 cheque in interest to a Gauteng contractor stemming from a complaint that dates back 16 years.

 This was on top of the R100 000 in withheld capital Johannes Skhosana was paid last year for an infrastructure project he completed in Daveyton in 2000.

 The then Greater Benoni City Council had held back that amount on the R342 000 coast despite Skhosana having “completed the project and satisfied his contractual obligations”‚ a statement said.

When a complaint was laid with the Office of the Public Protector in 2001‚ the council initially claimed he had not completed the work‚ then later said Skhosana had not provided the requisite provisional cost sums in his tender documents.

 No agreement could be reached between Skhosana and the council despite the public protector’s mediation at the time‚ but the file was later reviewed by former Thuli Madonsela.

Her July 2015 report‚ The Cost of Disempowerment‚ found that project Skhosana worked on was “intended to advance the interests of emerging building contractors‚ (but) had left him financially crippled to the extent that he had not been able to recover or develop any opportunity to build as a contractor”.

She also said the council had failed to assist the contractor in completing the necessary paperwork and business advice‚ which it should to promote emerging contractors.

 Madonsela directed the city manager of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality – under which Benoni now falls — to pay Skhosana an amount not less than R100 000‚ with moratory interest calculated from February 2001.

 In June 2016‚ the metro paid Skhosana the capital amount of R100 000‚ and seven months later‚ the interest on the capital amount were was handed over.

 “I am elated. I feel much better now‚” he told Mkhwebane as she handed over the cheque on Wednesday at her office in Pretoria.

 “Please help other people‚ too. A lot of people I know in the rural areas complaint about their identity documents and related matters. I will tell them about your office.”

 The only outstanding remedial action from Madonsela’s report was the city’s written apology to Skhosana.

 Mkhwebane said that it was cases such as that of Skhosana that account for the majority of her office workload.

 “These are people who do not have the financial muscle to litigate against the state‚” she said.

 “We are their only hope. In this David versus Goliath kind of setting‚ we help by levelling the power imbalance between ordinary people and the state so that the likes of Mr Skhosana can vindicate their rights

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