Unisa laptop scandal: Implicated staffer still demands money

Unisa laptop scandal: Implicated staffer still demands money

A company linked to a University of South Africa (Unisa) employee that scored more than R1-million in a tender to supply laptops to students is demanding further payments from the university.

This is despite an internal university audit report in 2022 which recommended to vice-chancellor Professor Puleng LenkaBula and her executives that a full investigation be carried out against Lesedi Ledwaba.

Ledwaba, who is also referred to as Ledwaba-Mbangwa, was a director at Burgeon Empire (Pty) Ltd – the company that scored a three-year tender to supply laptops on 4 August 2021.

At the time the contract was awarded she was working as an administrator in LenkaBula’s office.

An insider at Unisa said on Friday that nothing has been done, despite the recommendation.

Unisa did not respond to questions – including about Ledwaba’s employment status – sent on Thursday despite acknowledging them.

Ledwaba did not respond to questions on Friday either.

The controversial laptop scheme, amounting to R87-million, was found to be irregular by Professor Themba Mosia, who was appointed by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande in 2022 to investigate Unisa’s affairs following a ministerial task team Report in 2021.

Mosia was appointed to conduct his independent assessment following allegations of mismanagement against LenkaBula and ineffectiveness against the council.

Read more in the Daily Maverick: Unisa vice-chancellor’s fate in the balance after Nzimande plans to put institution under administration

Mosia advised Nzimande to appoint an administrator for Unisa and relieve LenkaBula’s management team of their duties.

Nzimande informed the council on 6 August of his intention to appoint an administrator and gave them seven days to respond.

However, the deadline has since been extended to 4 September by mutual agreement.

The Ledwaba connection

According to the report dated 25 August 2022, Ledwaba was employed at Unisa on 1 August 2021 and her contract was extended on 1 July 2022 to 31 December 2022.

The report stated that Burgeon was registered on Unisa’s supplier database as a supplier of IT and building services and that Ledwaba’s cell number was listed as its contact person.

“Ms Ledwaba is linked to Burgeon Empire (Pty) Ltd which has a three-year contract of supplying laptops to Unisa students,” the report read.

It said Ledwaba had completed a Unisa supplier application form in 2021 as a director of the company, but that it was unclear when the preliminary investigation was conducted in August 2022 whether she was still a director.

Several supporting documents had been found relating to payments, which also shed light on the transactions between Unisa and Burgeon.

“We found a letter dated 4 August 2021 from Manager: Supplier and Contract Management made for the attention of Lesedi Ledwaba advising her that the Tender Committee of the university has appointed Burgeon Empire (Pty) Ltd to provide Acer A315-34 laptops for three years,” the report read.

A letter dated 2 September 2021 had requested that the company confirm the quantity and brands of laptops that they would be able to supply.

Burgeon had indicated, in a reply on 3 September 2021 signed by Ntokozo Mbangwa as chief information officer, that they would supply 10,000 Mecer laptops.

Another letter, on 8 September 2021, had been sent for the attention of Ledwaba confirming that they would supply Mecer instead of Acer laptops for three years.

The Mbangwa relationship

The report said Unisa’s internal audit unit had searched for information on Burgeon and Ledwaba.

Information openly available on the internet had established that Mbangwa and Ledwaba were in a relationship.

“The person that seems to be running the affairs of Burgeon Empire (Pty) Ltd, Mr Mbangwa, has a close personal relationship with Ms Ledwaba,” the report read.

Public records had indicated that Mbangwa was chief information officer at Burgeon.

A LinkedIn search by Daily Maverick found that Mbangwa referred to himself as chief information officer of Burgeon in his profile.

Company records also show that Ledwaba was an incorporator appointed on 20 July 2016. She is also listed as a director who resigned on 23 August 2021.

Other directors included Mpho Kekana, Palesa Ledwaba, Mlekeleli Bruce Zungu and Collen Michael Siphelele Mtshali.

According to company records, Zungu resigned on 1 April 2018, Kekana on 15 August 2022 and Mtshali on 30 August 2022.


The report stated that Unisa made three payments amounting to R1,608 750 to Burgeon:

  • R278,850 on 3 December 2021;
  • R441,870 on 17 June 2022; and
  • R888,030 on 23 June 2022.

The report stated that the payments were made during the period in which Ledwaba was in the employ of Unisa.

“The supply chain management (SCM) policy prohibits employees from conducting business with Unisa and further requires former employees a cooling period of two years before they could conduct business with the university. The allegations against Ms Ledwaba by the anonymous report, especially allegations on SCM irregularities, appears to be valid and warrants further investigation,” the report read.


Daily Maverick has seen a chain of emails relating to the outstanding payments saga between Ledwaba and Unisa from June and July.

These included representatives from Mettle Specialised Solutions and Mustek.

Mettle’s business units include credit services, debtors finance, medical finance and corporate and specialised finance.

Mustek is a distributor of personal computers and complementary ICT products.

In an email dated 2 August, Ledwaba asked for Unisa’s availability for a meeting.

“I can avail myself any moment because this sitting is long overdue. We might need to consider copying the VC in this email if we continue being ignored. As the Burgeon Empire we have received a letter of demand from Mettle and our lawyers will also be sending a letter of demand to Unisa,” Ledwaba wrote.

She stated that the last communication she had with a Unisa official was about a request for her to send a memo outlining their issues and how these would be resolved.

Ledwaba stated that nothing had been done since then.

“We cannot be a casualty of a contract that Unisa has entered into with [courier company] DSV. We were the first company to deliver laptops and the failure by DSV to produce proof of delivery cannot be our issue,” she wrote.

Notwithstanding the fact that Unisa has been giving them problems with outstanding proof of deliveries, Ledwaba stated that they lost the contract because they could not get more funding from Mettle and Unisa failed to also officially inform them of the reasons for the halting of the contract.

“Can we please have an urgent meeting to resolve this issue, its [sic] long overdue and we need an urgent solution,” she wrote.

An email was also sent from Burgeon’s account to the parties involved, indicating that Unisa had not responded to the 2 August email.

“We need a way forward regarding the outstanding payment due to Burgeon Empire. We are therefore requesting a meeting to address this matter,” the email read.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Trying to register with Unisa is a ‘nightmare’, say many students

Mustek debtor supervisor Samantha Dawn Levey told Daily Maverick: “Except to state that Burgeon purchased certain computer laptops for on-sale to Unisa, which Mustek delivered to Unisa on Burgeon’s behalf, we have no further comment in this matter.”

DSV general manager Candice Liebenberg said the company had been contracted by Unisa to distribute laptops to National Student Financial Aid Scheme students according to the address lists provided by the university.

Liebenberg said DSV was paid for deliveries made after a proof of delivery (PoD) was submitted to Unisa.

“There were the usual challenges associated with a project of this nature, including incorrect addresses, incorrect telephone numbers, students having moved from one address to another and students not being available to receive a laptop at the point of delivery,” Liebenberg said.

She said a reconciliation of a project was standard practice.

“Unisa did request PoD and the project reconciliation was completed with Mr Andile Zondo from Unisa prior to payment being made to DSV.”

She declined to comment further about contract citing confidentiality and referred questions to Unisa for any further information.

Mettle representatives had not responded to questions by the time of publication. DM

Source: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2023-08-21-unisa-laptop-scandal-implicated-staffer-still-demands-money/