Fencing of borders – De Lille and Magwa Construction

Eienaardige “tender” prosedures wat gevolg is.   Wie het die grensdraad, wat swakker is as honderhokke, opgerig?   Dis pateties wat die regering toelaat om te gebeur en die belastingbetaler moet opdok vir ‘n grensdraad wat die een dag opgerig word, en die volgende dag is dit eenvoudig stukkend en gesteel.    Sien ook die skrywe hiernaas waar persone in sekere gemeenskappe via sms gekontak is om hul CV’s te stuur, maar niemand is gebruik nie.  Dus word “publiek” genader om wel te werk om data te gebruik, maar dit word geignoreer.   Dis eintlik lagwekkend en belaglik hoe armes uitgebuit word vir so ‘n tipe van noodsaaklike werk soos grense wat gebou of geskep moet word.

Magwa Construction cc


Is this really a border fence?    Must we, as citizens be so proud of this kind of border fence and paid millions of this so-called fence?    And for what purpose was this border?    The Public works minister Patricia de Lille said  that the army has been sent to the Beitbridge border fence after reports that it had been damaged.     Is this the joke of the year – yes, indeed.     A picture circulating showed the barbed wire fence had been cut through, with a gaping hole now clearly visible in the fence, which separates SA and Zimbabwe.

Government and its R37m fence at Beitbridge border


De Lille and the tender at the border


Responding to questions from City Press, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille defended the issuing of the R37 176 843.50 tender to Magwa Construction to secure the fence at the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe.    De Lille cited the current state of emergency as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak as the reason her department deviated from normal procurement procedures, which include advertising the tender in the Government Tender Bulletin.

De Lille denied that the price was inflated, instead she blamed the exorbitant cost on the remoteness of the area and the tight deadline to complete the project because of the pandemic.

“I have noted the concerns from the public and it is correct to hold government to account. I hope that this information provides a greater level of clarity and can assure South Africans that this matter will be a continuous area of collaboration between the departments of defence and home affairs. The Auditor General’s audit processes will unfold, to give affirmation to the country’s citizens.

“In terms of the value of the contract, many have questioned this amount and asked whether it equated to nearly R1 million/km. Unfortunately, the equation is not that simple especially on such a complex project of this magnitude.

“The cost of a project in a remote area differs compared to inland or urban project costs, for the same scope. The complex rates in this project are influenced by acceleration costs – that is short contract period, more labour resources required to do the job, increased speed of provision of material, increased overheads for management and plant equipment,” said De Lille.

She also said a project of this size “would have a construction duration of at least three to four months”. However, to comply with the shorter time frame of one month, the project team had to put measures on site to ensure accelerated delivery in order to meet the demands of the emergency.

The minister added that prior to the issuing of the tender, the department met with the department of defence and military veterans “and agreed on the scope of work under the state of disaster where the department of public works and infrastructure was requested to repair and replace the existing fence”.

However, both the departments of defence and military veterans and home affairs have passed the buck on to De Lille’s department on the controversial tender.

Defence spokesperson Colonel Louis Kirstein said: “Questions pertaining to the erecting and maintenance of the fence on the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe must be forwarded to the department of public works.”

David Hlabane, media manager at home affairs, said: “Please be advised that the issues you’re raising relate to the work of the departments of public works, defence and the police as they pertain to the borderline and criminal damage to the border fence.”

De Lille insisted that necessary checks and balances were followed. “To ensure for responsible procurement oversight, internal approval controls were utilised – in this case the National Bid Adjudication Committee. The method of procurement and the appointment of the service provider was vetted and approved by the committee before the appointment letters were issued,” she said.


Magwa Construction is a Civil, Building and Mechanical Engineering Construction Company which has successfully been operating since 2005. Our aim is to establish a trustworthy company that is committed to quality workmanship and has a long term relationship with all its clients.   Magwa Construction is an affirmative company with 50% of its management and 80% of its site supervisor posts being affirmative appointments. We support the view of Government to achieve the correct equity levels.



Dear Honourable Dr Aaron Motsoaledi,

We would like to approach you as the communities from Vhembe Communal Properties Association, under Musina municipality in Limpopo. Our communities are located right at the Zimbabwe boundary under Vhembe which  represents 7 villages (Bennde Mutale, Tshikuyu, Masisi, Tshedzhelani, Gumbu, Sigonde and Madimbo).

The Home Affairs department has started building a border fence with Zimbabwe on the border close to our communities. It is called “The  Magwa border fence project”.

We want Home Affairs to stop this border fence project and restart it only when majority of unskilled workers in the project are from our communities. At the moment, nobody from our communities has been employed in the project. Our communities are extremely poor, with high levels of youth unemployment. It is only fair that our community enjoy job benefits from the project.

It is clear from the process before the construction started that the contractor for the project did not want to employ people from our communities.  This is evident from these three facts:

1. The contractor (its name is Magwa Construction) sent us an sms on 24  March 2020 at  14h32, which announced that those who need a job should submit their CV by 25 March 2020 at 11h00. They deliberately gave us a short notice so that none of us is able to submit the job application.

2.  In the sms message advertising the job opportunities, they told us that we should submit our application using an email. They did this knowing so well that we in the rural areas do not have access to emails. In this way, none of us in our communities is then able to apply for a job.

3.  We were also surprised that the contractor communicated the message via our councillor. We have traditional leaders in our rural communities. They were overlooked in the communication. They were not properly consulted. There is too much secrecy regarding the project. We believe that the project should have been announced to the communities in time so that we become aware of the scope of the project. (How long is the project going to take, the owner of the project, job opportunities and numbers of workers needed, 30% beneficiary to the local construction budget allocated). The information we have about the project is from the media.

From the media, we heard the minister saying that the project is budgeted +/- R40m. And that the project is going to take 3 weeks – we are shocked at that.  Why the secrecy? Why the hurry doing the project during lockdown?  Why not wait after the lockdown? Why are they doing the project in haste during the lockdown and as communities, the police block us and prevent us from going to see what is happening in the project?  Is this border fence an essential service or there is something fishy or some corruption that they are trying to hide from us as communities along the border?

In conclusion:


1. We would like to get clarity as to the progress made in the project from the Department of Home Affairs, from the Municipality, and the Department of Rural development.

2.  We want the project to stop and start again only when it has ensured that majority of unskilled labour in the project are from our communities.

3.  We should also be given enough time to submit our job applications.

4.  They should allow us to submit our job applications by hand, and not by email, at a place which is convenient for us.

5.  We support the government in this idea of a border fence. It is good for our security. But there should be a partnership between the government and our communities for the construction of the border fence. Our communities should be involved in job opportunities.


Thank you,

Bennde Mutale community.




2 gedagtes oor “Fencing of borders – De Lille and Magwa Construction”

  1. […] Eienaardige “tender” prosedures wat gevolg is.   Wie het die grensdraad, wat swakker is as honderhokke, opgerig?   Dis pateties wat die regering toelaat om te gebeur en die belastingbetaler moet opdok vir ‘n grensdraad wat die een dag opgerig word, en die volgende dag is dit eenvoudig stukkend en gesteel.  Fencing of borders – De Lille and Magwa Construction […]


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