She described it as “levelling the power imbalance between ordinary people and the state” as she handed over a R100,000 cheque in interest to the Gauteng contractor, Johannes Skhosana. This was on top of the R100000 in withheld capital Skhosana was paid last year for an infrastructure project he completed in Daveyton in 2000.
“I am elated. I feel much better now,” he told Mkhwebane as she handed over the cheque at her office in Pretoria.
“Please help other people, too. A lot of people I know in the rural areas complain about their identity documents and related matters. I will tell them about your office.”
The then Greater Benoni City Council had held back R100,000 on the R342,000 cost despite Skhosana having “completed the project and satisfied his contractual obligations”, Mkhwebane found.
When a complaint was laid with the public protector in 2001, the council initially claimed he had not completed the work, then later said Skhosana had not provided certain details 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 public protector Thuli Madonsela.
Her July 2015 report, The Cost of Disempowerment, found that the 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 as a contractor”.
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 interest calculated from February 2001. In June 2016, the metro paid Skhosana the capital amount of R100,000, and seven months later, the R100,000 interest on the capital amount was handed over.
The only remedial action recommended in Madonsela’s report, but not carried out, was for a written apology by the city to Skhosana.