In what a Fin24 report calls a scathing judgment, the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) has ordered the City of Tshwane to reveal documents to show why it awarded a crucial R585m IT contract to a startup that does not seem to have the capability to execute the work.

Technology giant Altron had managed these services for 18 years. But earlier this year, the city awarded the contract to startup Brilliant Telecommunications.

Altron only received a hardware contract for R44m as part of the tender.

In July, Altron approached the High Court on an urgent basis to declare the new contract invalid. It contended that Brilliant Telecommunications did not have the necessary skills and resources to manage Tshwane's IT and communication services. 

According to Altron's court papers, Brilliant is not affiliated, accredited nor registered with Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei, which supply the key equipment needed for the contract.

The tender specifications specifically stated that the winner should be able to expand the use of the municipality's current services and technologies with these manufacturers.

Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei also confirmed that Brilliant Telecommunications did not ask them for pricing information, which is required for bidders to give accurate quotations to the city in their tender bids.

The tender documents had also specified the winner should hold two licences from Icasa, which Brilliant Telecommunications did not.

Delivering judgment, Judge Irene de Vos pointed out that the municipality awarded Brilliant Telecommunications a R585m contract, even though the company's own bid was for only R74m.

According to the Fin24 report, the judge also raised pointed questions about why a company named Brilliant Telecommunications was registered with Icasa – but that the company's registration number did not match that of the Tshwane bidder.

‘In other words, there is a licence which reflects the second respondent's name (Brilliant Telecommunications), but when the registration number is investigated – it belongs to a different company,’ said De Vos.

Citing the need for transparency, fairness and cost effectiveness, De Vos found in favour of Altron and ordered the municipality to hand over all the required records.

She ordered both the city and Brilliant Telecommunications – cited as the second respondent – to pay the costs.

Altron will now be able to use this information to strengthen its case to have the contract reviewed and set aside as invalid.

Full Fin24 report