Picture: for illustration purposes

The Naicker Dynasty: An In-depth Delve into a Family's Lucrative Domination of South Africa's State Contracts

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

Annually, the South African government utilizes billions of rands to contract heavy machinery from various private entities, a business dominantly run by the Naickers, a family from Durban. The so-called "yellow plant"-- heavy machinery including front-end-loaders and bulldozers -- have been predominantly supplied by Aqua Transport and Plant Hire and X-moor Transport, both owned by various members of the Naicker family.

These companies have been instrumental not only in keeping Eskom, the national power company operational, but also maintaining the port activities at Transnet, ensuring the consisted functionality of sewerage systems and providing a vital supply of water through their tankers when required. Aqua Transport, notably, holds the largest fleet of water tankers in the southern hemisphere.

However, recent developments could pose a problem for the Naickers, as the National Treasury has expressed an intent to blacklist certain family members and their companies for a decade, based on findings from a forensic investigation. A Johannesburg Water contract reportedly exploded to R90 million in cost in 2022. This led to allegations against X-moor and another related company of "undesirable conduct" and "collusive bidding practices".

September last year also brought the arrest of Aqua's directors on charges related to a 2012 KwaZulu-Natal tender. Competition Commission allegations towards X-Moor, Aqua, and two related companies will also go before the Competition Tribunal this November. Despite these challenges, the family continues to benefit from their government contracts, which have funded a lavish lifestyle including luxury homes and cars.

Furthermore, the rivalry between the two factions of the Naicker family, the X-moors and the Aquas, creates additional intrigue in this unfolding saga. This warring duopoly adds a twist to the tale, with bitter competition often contributing to the exposure of their challenges.

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