Army deals under fire

The South African National Defence Force has raided the offices of prominent military contractor Mike Guimaraes and cancelled all of his deals.

Last year the Sunday Times revealed that several contracts awarded to Guimaraes' companies - American Products Services and Cranecor Africa - to repair military vehicles were under investigation.

SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga yesterday confirmed that the military's specialist investigation branch executed a search and seizure warrant last week.

"Various documents related to ongoing investigations were seized," he said.

"All contracts that were awarded to American Products Services have since been terminated."

He declined to divulge further details.

A confidential memo obtained by The Times reveals military top brass were warned six years ago to immediately cut ties with Guimaraes' companies as it was suspected that he had colluded with military officials to inflate the price of repairs, replacement parts and labour.

The memo was written in January 2010 by an army procurement officer.

Guimaraes yesterday denied all wrongdoing.

Said Mabanga: "The question nobody wants to ask is: Is there a personal relationship between SANDF personnel and the companies (and) who is benefiting?"

The Times obtained payment schedules that show American Products Services and Cranecor Africa received R64-million for work awarded between 2011 and 2015.

An anti-corruption task team led by the Hawks is investigating Guimaraes in a separate case for alleged bid-rigging and fronting.

In February 2014 Cranecor Africa was awarded a contract worth an estimated R1-billion by the Department of Public Works to build low- cost military bridges.

Documents reveal that three companies linked to Guimaraes submitted bids for the tender.

Cranecor Africa, which won the tender, was initially owned by Guimaraes and his wife.

By the time it tendered it was wholly owned by a black junior employee, obtaining maximum empowerment points. The tender was later cancelled.

Guimaraes said in a text message yesterday that his contract with the SANDF had "expired" in June 2015.

"At all material times, our client followed proper protocol in his business dealings," his lawyer Andre du Plessis said.

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