Cleaning company’s record not so spotless

Mogamad and Mymoena Emjedi were waiting for the traffic lights to change at the intersection of Jan Smuts Drive and Blomvlei Road, Athlone, when they heard what sounded like a gunshot followed by a loud crash behind them.

They turned around and saw to their shock that the back passenger window of their Fiat Stilo had been shattered.

“Workers were cleaning the field alongside when a rock must have shot out from a weed eater and through the window,” said Rabea Emjedi, their daughter.

“Luckily no one was sitting in the back but my parents both got a big shock, and my dad, who had double-bypass surgery, hit his chest against the steering wheel. When they got out of the car to assess the damage, the workers said they were from cleaning contractor Top * Nos, and would pay for the damage.

“There was a police car in the next lane on the day of the incident (October 12 2019) and they escorted my parents to Top * Nos who said they will replace the window. Top * Nos they said they will contact their glass specialist Farieda from Mobile Windows/Glass who will put in temporary Perspex until the window arrives,” said Ms Emjedi, who sent numerous emails to Top * Nos without a reply.

Ms Emjedi sent the first of numerous emails to Kavi (surname unknown), the manager (on October 15 2019) and thanked Top * Nos for agreeing to replace the broken window.

“The glass fitter told me she is struggling to get a window to fit the car, but she will continue looking. The car is not safe to drive and is an easy target for break-ins. I do understand that your team is doing their best. However, I suggest you start calling the Fiat agents who will be able to help,” Ms Emjedi said. Kavi didn’t reply to any of the messages.

Eventually, after a lot of ducking and diving, the reception gave Ms Emjedi his cellphone number.

“When I called Kavi he told me they take full responsibility and will do what is needed to get the broken window fixed,” Ms Emjedi said.

“Kavi did say that he thought the window had been fixed as he had left it in Farieda’s hands.

“When I contacted Farieda she was rude and told us not to harass her and she will do it. She didn’t and our patience is running out. If they can’t fix it they should compensate us and we’ll go to PG Glass to have it repaired. We urgently need you to intervene.”

I sent Ms Emjedi’s letter to Top * Nos, attention Kavi, also asking, if you were fined for collusion why are you still doing work for the province and was told to refer the matter to their attorneys.

Seconds later, at 1.50pm on January 21, I received an unsigned message, saying “email well noted”.

At 3.45pm the same day another unsigned email arrived, that “the glass issue has been resolved”.

Ms Emjedi confirmed this. “I received a call from Jermaine, the most understanding person I have dealt with at Top * Nos. He seemed to understand the situation after reading the many emails that I sent to Kavi over the past few months. Jermaine asked me to email my bank account details so they could deposit the money, R2 295, immediately (Which was done). They also offered to pay for the fitting of the window, we just have to send them the bill,” Ms Emjedi said.

“Thank you for all your assistance. It seemed like a nightmare that we would never have been able to resolve on our own.”

Top * Nos and Zara Cleaning Services were fined for collusion and price-fixing in their submissions for a tender for the provision of cleaning services to the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.

Top * Nos was fined R36 935 and Zara Cleaning Services R167 242 by the Competition Commission.

The Sentinel News (March 10 2017) reported that the Hout Bay Civic Association accused Alan Winde, then MEC for Finance, Tourism and Agriculture, for failing to ensure that his accounting officer requested National Treasury to blacklist Top * Nos from government tenders.

Mr Winde, now Premier of the Western Cape, said the department had moved to restrict the service provider from doing business with the state. In addition, the department had not secured any services from them since 2013.

This after awarding a tender to Top * Nos to clean toilets at Llandudno and Hout Bay beaches.

The Cape Argus (July 12 2017) also reported that Top * Nos, contracted by the City of Cape Town to keep the ablution blocks at Llandudno and Hout Bay beaches clean, have been blacklisted by the National Treasury.

As a result Top * Nos has and can no longer do business with any level of government until July 3, 2022.

Mayoral committee member for finance, Johan van der Merwe, said then that in terms of supply chain management regulations, Top * Nos cannot be awarded any future contracts.

The City may only restrict a supplier if they are on the National Treasury list, which has now happened.

Top * Nos’s attorneys didn’t say why they were still working (land clearing) for the province if they were fined for collusion (and blacklisted).