14 April 2014
On the 25 March 2013, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) issued a press statement on the furniture bid matter. The LRC, on behalf of the Centre for Child Law (CCL), applied to urgently intervene in a matter between Rickshaw Trade and Invest 49 (Pty) Ltd and the Eastern Cape Department of Education.
Rickshaw is concerned about the lawfulness of a bidding process undertaken by the Eastern Cape Department of Education to procure school furniture and has asked that the Department be interdicted from the ordering, payment and delivery of furniture until the lawfulness of the bid is decided upon by the Eastern Cape High Court.
It appears from documents received by the LRC and CCL that the tender process was irregular.
An interdict, if granted, will have serious implications on the delivery of furniture to thousands of learners in the Eastern Cape who are currently without a desk or chair. There is now a real prospect that the timeframe for filling the backlog will not be met. The deadline of 31 May 2014 was given in the matter of Madzodzo.
In March, the LRC and CCL asked for a postponement of the application hearing for three weeks and requested an opportunity to file an affidavit regarding this matter. On 26 March 2014, the court granted a postponement of the Rickshaw application and an interim interdict pending the hearing, which halted all future orders of furniture.
At the hearing, which will take place on 14 April 2014, it will be determined whether or not an interim interdict should be granted pending a review of the procurement process.
The LRC and CCL is concerned that the delivery of furniture is not delayed any further and that the order in Madzodza is fulfilled. On the other hand, the LRC is also concerned that there should not be abuse of the order to perpetrate maladministration.
In view of the above, and failing an adequate answer from the Department, we would urge the Court to order final relief at the hearing.
The LRC and CCL submit in their papers that they view of the actions of the Department as exploitative of the court order. However, we indicate our willingness to develop suggestions on future procurement practices, so as not to debilitate future procurement by the Department. One such suggestion may be judicial oversight of procurement activities by the Department.
 Madzodzo and seven others v The Minister of Basic Education and four others (case number 2144/2012).