JSE-listed technology group Altron has won an appeal at the supreme court, overturning the high court’s earlier decision to set aside the awarding of a broadband contract to Thobela Telecoms, a special-purpose vehicle in which Altron Nexus was a minority shareholder.
Altron Nexus is a subsidiary of Altron.
In the judgment handed down on Monday, a full bench of judges found the City of Tshwane’s application to have the contract award set aside had been erroneously granted by the lower court, Altron said in a statement.
“The judgment … aside the previous ruling, and upheld the appeal by Altron and Thobela, and Absa Bank as funders, with costs, including those of two counsel,” Altron said.
The matter relates to a long-running dispute between Thobela Telecoms and Tshwane over the city’s allegations that the tender award process was unlawful due to internal processes and procedures not being correctly followed. The project was later put on hold by Tshwane, pending the outcome of the court case.
Altron CEO Mteto Nyati said the group is studying the judgment to determine the way forward but said it had been “vindicated”.
“Neither Altron nor its subsidiaries will countenance any corrupt dealings. We are pleased that the court has ruled in our favour. Any possible maladministration or mismanagement of Altron Nexus was quite correctly never an issue. The city and its officials were solely to blame for its predicament,” Nyati said.
‘Rule of law’
The supreme court said Tshwane had sought to review its own decisions, because it had not complied with its own rules and had “misinterpreted certain statutory prescripts and maladministered its own tender process in respect of the appointment of a service provider for a municipal broadband network project”.
Under the terms of the contract, Thobela would build, operate and — at the end of 18 years — transfer a 1 500km fibre-optic broadband network, which would provide Internet access to underserviced areas in Tshwane.
“We see this judgment as a victory for companies who obey the rule of the law and are ethical and transparent. It is also a win for marginalised people, who were set to initially benefit from broadband,” Nyati said. – © 2020 NewsCentral Media