R140m for gov’t website – report

Free State director-general Elzabe Rockman disputes the reported figure, saying the development of the province's website actually cost R40m.


The Free State provincial government spent R140m on its website, it was reported on Monday.

Free State director-general Elzabe Rockman signed a three-year contract to redesign the website in 2011, the Sowetan newspaper reported.

She had reportedly disputed the amount, claiming it was actually R40m.

The agreement was signed with businessman Tumi Ntsele, who reportedly holds tenders with several other provincial departments.

The Sowetan reported that the company was awarded the tender even though two other companies submitted significantly lower bids.

Etionee Bruwer, owner of Web development company Jam Factory, told the newspaper the amount charged for the website was “ridiculous”. “The company that is working on that site is probably making R3.5m profit a month,” he said.

Bruwer said the most paid for a website was R12m, by financial institutions which needed to protect sensitive information.

Ntsele told the newspaper opposition parties had an agenda against black businessmen and that the website’s cost was fair.  — Sapa

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  • http://twitter.com/Liron_Segev Liron Segev

    insane doesn’t event begin to describe this ! It is what I call the “Tender-Law” = the high-value tender process is inversely proportional to the value it produces. The scary thing is people signed off on this thinking it is reasonable !! where do I hand in multi-million Rand proposal?

  • Dirk Strauss

    This is the FIRST WordPress site I have seen that costs THIS much!!! http://www.freestateonline.fs.gov.za/wp-login.php
    The worst thing of all is that corrupt individuals continue to do this because of Government apathy!

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewSchar Andrew Schär

    Powered by WordPress (free) and a $40 theme…

  • http://twitter.com/vincenthofmann vincent hofmann

    Good thing they used a reputable, local, design agency ‘ThemeForest’ for their work. http://themeforest.net/item/london-live-3-in-1-news-magazine-and-blog/154462

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewSchar Andrew Schär

    Gotta love the “Powered By: Cherry Online Design” at the bottom left of the site – who doesn’t even have a webpage of it’s own…

  • http://twitter.com/mezu khathu ndouvhada

    That is a $40 WordPress template from theme forest.. some people have no shame. A waste of my taxes!

  • http://profiles.google.com/gmccumskey Gareth McCumskey

    So basically they paid for a WordPress site (free) powered by a WordPress theme ($40) and it was worth R40 000 000 …. They need to get their head out of their collective tooshes and stop trying to con South African’s. Someone has made money off of a corrupt deal here somewhere.

  • http://twitter.com/WrathZA Brett Miller

    This is criminal. Literally. This needs to go to court.

  • http://twitter.com/nickjackson Nick Jackson

    It doesn’t even have Google Analytics or follow SEO best practice… I would’ve done it and offered support for life for half that.

  • tomasvdb

    the site doesn’t even load for me… probably being overloaded.
    I bet they use a free DB to power it too..

  • TefoMohapi

    Let me be blunt: THIS IS BULL****.

    Highlight a few things:

    1. It runs WordPress
    2. WordPress 3.4.1 (So many known security vulnerabilities)
    3. Latest version of WordPress is 3.5.1
    4. WordPress is free
    5. You can buy WordPress themes and plugins off the web for max $200 (for an exclusive theme)
    6. Hosting with MySQL DB and about 1GB of storage is approx. R99 / month in South Africa
    7. That theme apparently costs around US$40.00

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Why should they bother? Get your corrupt struggle buddy to give you one job, and retire off it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kagisomutlaneng Kagiso Mutlaneng

    Ntsele must shut up! I run a black owned IT business and that price is ridiculous. Tell him to use another excuse because even black owned IT businesses calling crap on this! Even at 40 mill this website doesn’t have ANY features that I can personally see that even justify R1million. Didn’t even set the DNS properly, the URL won’t work without the www sub-domain *disgusted* incompetent fools!

  • Joel Sangster


  • http://twitter.com/rmaclean Robert MacLean

    I would like to see a break down for the costs before whining like so many do that this is over priced. My gut says it is still over priced, but let’s get the facts.

    I suspect this is similar to the Durban website a few years back that cost R10mil (if memory serves) – where it wasn’t just the website cost but the cost worked out to include:

    + Website theme development – agreed in this case it is $40 cost plus cost of tweaking. I think this is far more than people suspect, since govt. needs to ensure higher accessibility than a general website & many WordPress themes are just shit for that.

    + Hosting costs for the life (generally 5 years) – not using best price people but rather Govt. department hosting (SITA) which is really expensive comparatively to the private sector.

    + Functionality development – lots of additional development that may not be publicly seen. For example call centre like functionality for queries logged on the website.

    + Staff cost for the life – this is the cost for the salaries of the employees meant to keep it up to date. Writers, artists, technical etc…

    + Call centre costs for the life – the need for a call centre for the website, physical location, infrastructure and staff costs. Also if there is any query logging functionality this may mean a fairly large team of people.

    + Training of all the people – if it is outsourced (to the developers or other companies) they likely have added on a lot for training all the people involved.

    As I said I think it is still overpriced but there is FAR more involved than many of the commentators seem to put into their thinking.

  • http://www.mypolokwane.com NicP

    For that price I’ll make them 141 websites … or 40 if they insist!

  • http://twitter.com/Regardt Regardt van der Berg

    For R140 million they could have purchased a digital agency, ran it and made a profit. This is why SA cannot prosper #tenderpreneurs

  • http://twitter.com/pipeweed Ian Gilfillan

    They seem to be running WordPress 3.4.1 too, an old version with security flaws

  • http://www.facebook.com/kagisomutlaneng Kagiso Mutlaneng

    Exactly Ian, the current WordPress version is 3.5.1 if I’m not mistaken. This is the LondonLive template that can be bought from Themeforest! Absolutely disgusted! They now spitting in taxpayers faces without shame!

  • http://www.facebook.com/coontly Coontly Conrad Van Stattleburg

    I think whoever signed that Cheque should go sit in Oscar Pistorious’ bathroom.

  • http://twitter.com/TeeZA42 Jonathan Tee

    Another joke on the taxpayer

  • http://twitter.com/Dplanet Damian Stephens

    It’s either criminal negligence or corruption.

  • http://www.facebook.com/iwan.uswak Iwan Uswak

    I could have done it for 5 Bananas + delivery costs in 30 Minutes!
    No FUN! Any African Government can contact me and I’ll do it for the price!

  • http://twitter.com/AlanAlston Alan Alston

    No-one is taking into account the endless meetings the designers/developers had to sit through with all sorts of vested parties. I’m surprised these sites ever see the light of day…

  • wayneashleyberry

    This is so sad. Wasting money on a website that most of our country wont even have access to anyway.

  • Johann Botha

    Don’t forget the R2.5m for kickbacks and R1.5m for the 3 staff members per month.

  • lmb

    those two women in the pic are priceless – words fail me at the temerity of their stupidity to believe the public would not smell the hotdog on this one………..

  • Ntshembos

    hahahaha i am not laughing i am crying South Africa is turning into a joke why do we let people with psychiatric disorders continue to do the mess this is far from greed who ever awarded this tender need to be expelled ASP

  • http://twitter.com/Gene_us Mosa Eugene Nkuna

    I appreciate that you choose to reason before assuming corruption/incompetence but it’s clear as day, even with those costs factored in, how the SA population is being blindly robbed of its hard earned money!

  • Ntshembos

    200mb disc space website this is kak

  • TefoMohapi


  • TefoMohapi

    Robert, what work could really have been involved here? Collecting photos? Blog posts? Because clearly the theme was not customized.

  • Anonymous


  • Greg Mahlknecht

    The government running something at a profit? I think I spotted a flaw in your plan.

  • http://twitter.com/rmaclean Robert MacLean

    When I mean work, I mean on going work, i.e. not what you see now but what you see in the future.

    For instance let’s say there is an event like the opening of the provincial legislature. Someone needs get photos, someone needs to write a blurb, someone needs to upload them, someone needs to copywrite the text, someone needs to pass to legal, someone needs to pass to PR people etc…

    A lot of this should be handled by the current communication department but there is the possibility the cost includes all that and even if not, there is some aspects that are likely not covered.

  • http://twitter.com/rmaclean Robert MacLean

    I agree with you that R140mil is excessive too and there is something wrong however I do not agree with “being blindly robbed” – A discussion like this & the response from the DA are clearly not being blindly robbed.

  • che’ nxusani

    Seriously, how much longer are we just going to sit and take this bullshit!? This is our well earned tax money being wasted, no matter how you look at it.
    Does anyone know of any way to legitmately protest against irrisponsible spending like this?

  • Fredsi

    Their copy-writing is rotten as well: “phase lift” instead of facelift. Not getting much value there either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/edwin.spiessens Edwin Spiessens

    Yet another blatant smack in the face of the South African society.

  • TefoMohapi


  • ChrisChristoff

    Themeforest is marketplace. Not an ageny.

  • ChrisChristoff

    As pointed out by another comment, there is alot more expenses at work here because its a government site, as opposed to a site for a public company. But still high.

  • http://twitter.com/NathanLSimons Nathan L Simons

    What is the web address for the site? The url in the picture does not work. I would like to see this R40 mil website.

  • Nico Gouws

    It’s interesting to hear the complaints of people over corruption, however why do you keep on voting in these idiots?

  • 4u2discuss

    Does anybody have the contact details of the anti corruption squad?

    We should all get onto this and insist that somebody be charged with this criminally insane act of blatant disregard for the rule of law and the tender process….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002279948679 Pozesa Xolani Sethole

    this is worse than the situation of the guy who got dragged in a police van & killed, imagine 9 more of these website every province..

  • http://twitter.com/vincenthofmann vincent hofmann

    I understand this, my point is that they ignored local talent and went to an international marketplace.

    Sarcasm potentially lost without tone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/saintqj Quincy Ndlozi

    uhm clearly you know nothing about web development dude. none of those should amount to a million. If the fs gov came to me, i would simply charge R2000 for that site.

  • http://twitter.com/PanzerPlanet Werner Roets

    Hahahahahahahahah that’s all they do bro?!

  • http://twitter.com/AlanAlston Alan Alston

    Clearly you have no inkling about politics or irony for that matter.

    Btw: I’ve built literally thousands of sites in my career.

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