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High Court rejects refund claim after company spent own R235 000 fixing potholes



Staff Reporter

A Free State transport and logistics company will not recover a single cent after it used its own money to fix a local road it says was in a bad state.

Goldfields Logistics (Pty) Ltd took the provincial Department of Police, Roads and Transport to court claiming a reimbursement amounting to R234 594.65 for repairs that it says it effected on the R59 road between Bothaville and Parys in the province.

In the claim instituted at the Free State High Court, the company said it had, among other things, spent R22 750.10 on paying casual labourers hired between 14 June 2015 and 24 April 2017 to fix the road.

Goldfields Logistics also claimed it had used R29 340.86 to purchase bitumen emulsion for use in the repairs, as well as R28 710 on travelling costs for a supervisor and labourers involved in the roadworks.

Two supervisors overseeing the road repairs had been paid an amount totalling R45 936 as salaries at R400 per day for 58 days, the plaintiff claimed.

However, in its plea, the roads department contended that “it had no knowledge of the plaintiff’s alleged maintenance of the R59 road between 2014 and 2017”.

It also denied having authorised the plaintiff’s alleged conduct tacitly or otherwise.

The department specifically pleaded that the plaintiff “had a duty to notify the defendant of its intended actions and take certain further steps”.

The defendant further pleaded that, in the event the repairs had to be carried out as a matter of urgency, the plaintiff was required to “obtain two independent invoices from civil contractors evidencing the reasonable costs of repairs”.

Goldfields Logistics should also have submitted evidence as to the condition of the road and a motivation to the department as to why the repair was required, the defendant argued.

“The plaintiff ought to have given the defendant an opportunity of one month to inspect the work and indicate whether it is satisfactory or not,” the department pleaded.

“Thereafter render an invoice to the defendant after the inspection had been completed to the satisfaction of the defendant, alternatively after the month for inspection had lapsed.”

After hearing the matter, Judge Sharon Chesiwe said it was difficult for the court to order the relief sought considering that the defendant was a state organ and that the necessary procurement in terms of all the relevant legislation and policies had not been followed.

“It may have been a good initiative from the plaintiff’s side, but the applicable procurement prescripts which are designed to ensure transparency (and) cost effectiveness must be followed,” she noted in her ruling delivered on March 3.

“The various statutes such as the Public Finance Management Act 1 of 1991 (PFMA), Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003 (MFMA) . . . supply chain management policies are there for a purpose and to prevent a free-for-all management of the state’s affairs.

“Indeed, the state will be flooded with claims and litigation from parties who will claim that they managed the state’s affairs. 

“Litigants would repair and fix state property without following the proper procurement process.”

The judge acknowledged that it was no secret that roads in and around the Free State province were riddled with potholes

“It is tempting for businesses to try and fix these roads, as it affects them,” she said.

Judge Cheshiwe said the roads department, as a state organ, was obliged to follow the prescripts of the PFMA, the MFMA and National Treasury, including supply chain management policies, to pay for services rendered. 

“Equally frustrating as it may be for companies such as the plaintiff and having had to fix these potholes, the court cannot condone such action which may result in countless claims against the state, which claims will not be verified as the proper processes were not followed nor the procurement process,” she ruled.

The claim was dismissed with costs.

Goldfields Logistics, established in 1988, is based in Bothaville and runs a massive fleet of trucks that operate across the country.

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Masks no longer mandatory when outdoors



Staff Reporter

South Africans will no longer be required to wear masks while outdoors, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday night when he gave an update on national efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The wearing of masks indoors however remains mandatory.

“As before, it is mandatory to wear a cloth mask or similar covering over the nose and mouth when in public indoor spaces,” said Ramaphosa in a televised address.

“However, a mask is not required when outdoors,” he added.

“This means that we still need to wear masks when in shops, malls, offices, factories, taxes, buses, trains or any other indoor public space.

“But we do not need to wear masks when walking on the street or in an open space, when exercising outdoors or when attending an outdoor gathering.”

The president said after four waves of infection, fewer people are becoming severely ill and requiring hospitalisation.

He said there are far fewer deaths than before.

“Our scientists tell us that this is mainly because some 60 to 80 percent of the population has some form of immunity to the virus, either from previous infection or vaccination . . . we are now ready to enter a new phase in our management of the pandemic,” said Ramaphosa.

About 48 percent of all adults are believed to have received at least one vaccine dose.

Further to that, both indoor and outdoor venues can now take up to 50 percent of their capacity provided that the criteria for entrance are proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours.

“But where there is no provision for proof of vaccination or a COVID test, then the current upper limit will remain – of 1 000 people indoors and 2 000 people outdoors,” he explained.

This change to the restrictions on gatherings, according the president, will be of great benefit to the sporting, cultural, entertainment and events industries, among others.

The maximum number of people permitted at a funeral will increase from 100 to 200.

However, night vigils as well as after-funeral and ‘after-tears’ gatherings are still not allowed.

The regulations on social distancing are also being changed, requiring that a space of one metre is maintained between persons in all settings except schools.

There are also changes to the regulations on international travel.

Travellers entering South Africa will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours.

All unvaccinated travellers entering the country who want to be vaccinated will be offered a vaccination.

All measures are taking effect from this Wednesday.

Ramaphosa said in deciding which restrictions to ease and which to keep in place, they  also looked to the experiences of other countries, including those where the complete lifting of restrictions has been followed by a surge in infections and deaths.

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Man gets six life terms for raping own daughter



Staff Reporter

A 36-year-old man from Clocolan has been sentenced to six life terms by the Free State High Court after he was found guilty of raping his 14-year-old daughter.

In a statement, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Judge Pina Mathebula sentenced the father, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his daughter, for raping her six times between May and July 2021.

“The victim was staying with the accused, his wife, who is her stepmother, and two other siblings,” read part of the statement issued by NPA regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping on Thursday.

“In May 2021, the accused told his wife that his late brother told him in a dream ‘to get rid of a tokoloshe that was inside the victim’. The very same night of the alleged dream, the accused raped the victim. The last rape incident took place on 25 July 2021,” added the statement.

The court, sitting in Ladybrand, heard that the wife tried to reprimand him but he assaulted her.

As if not enough, he overpowered and raped the victim, despite her cries and his wife’s reprimands.

He threatened to kill both of them if they were to tell anyone of what he did.

A day later, the accused’s sister visited the family and the wife told her what the husband had done to the child.

The sister reported his brother to the police and he was arrested.

In aggravation, state prosecutor Advocate Moipone Moroka submitted a victim impact report facilitated by Bulelani Mothabeng in which the victim said that she thanks her aunt for coming to her rescue because if it was not for her, she would still be her father’s sex slave.

Moroka further argued that the scourge of violence against women and children has reached an alarming proportion and can be described as a pandemic.

“What aggravates the matter is that the father raped his own daughter multiple times over a period of three months and this means he had ample opportunity to reflect on his actions, but he continued betraying the trust his daughter had in him,” said Moroka.

The father was sentenced to six life sentences for rape and two years for assault and the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

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Premier mourns journalist



Staff Reporter

Premier Sisi Ntombela has described the late SABC journalist Thabo Katsande as a disciplined, dedicated and hardworking man.

She said this in her special tribute to Katsande, who was based in Bloemfontein, during a memorial service held at the Rose Hall at the Mangaung Metropolitan offices on Thursday.

The journalist passed away at a Pretoria hospital last Saturday following a short illness.

“The Thabo I knew was focused on his work,” said an emotional Ntombela.

“The Thabo I knew was passionate about his trade and wanted to see journalism, particularly in the Free State, grow in leaps and bounds,” she added.

The premier took the opportunity to urge people to value their work and strive to improve their communities as the province is faced with a high unemployment rate.

“We live in an era where some people do not value their jobs . . . and a sense of entitlement has consumed them. Thabo’s work ethic was admirable,” she pointed out.

Ntombela described Katsande as a fearless and fair journalist who showed both the good and the bad through his work.

“Through his work, Thabo helped us to tell . . . the Free State story,” she said.

“He captured the minds of the people with the way he told our stories, the good and the bad.

“The beautiful and the not so beautiful – Thabo told it all, without fear or favour.

“The media fraternity has lost a giant and . . . it will be poorer without him.

“No longer shall we see that charismatic man running around with a camera looking for that perfect shot.”

Katsande will be laid to rest in Bluemgumbosch, eastern Free State, this Saturday.

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