A former tronkvoël is suing the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) for more than R5 billion.
The ex-con is accusing the Department of stealing his idea for an electronic inmate monitoring system and awarding the tender to another company for R378 million.
Quintin Richards, 44, of Hermanus, says he came up with the concept while he was behind bars from 2012 to May 2014, after he was convicted of possession of drugs.
His system involves capturing a suspect’s personal information and details of the crime, conviction and sentence onto a central system which can then be accessed by authorised personnel within the police, Justice Department and Correctional Services.
This information would be loaded onto a smart card which the accused would have to carry around at all times.
“I worked on an idea for the Department of Health before I went to jail and then used this data to develop my idea for the electronic inmate monitoring system,” explains Quintin.
This after he noticed inmates were given cardboard tronkkaarte, which they had to carry around with them.
“I came up with the idea to load all this information onto an (electronic) card instead. This would save the department millions on stationery and would help them to go green by cutting down on paper,” explains Quintin.
According to Quintin, who is the owner of Pro-Tech Group Developers, he presented his idea to DCS officials while he was still behind bars three years ago.
“I had no access to technology like cellphones or laptops. All I had was pen and paper,” he laughs.
He was released on May 5, 2014, and made a formal presentation to the DCS Regional Quality Assurance Committee on October 1.
He and a Ms Reid-Moses of DCS also signed a non-disclosure document, prohibiting the Department from using his idea without his approval.
Quintin says he received a letter from Rudi van Heerden of DCS a few weeks later requesting that he forward his business plan to the Department.
A few months later he allegedly received a letter from Freddie Engelbrecht, the Deputy Regional Commissioner and chairman of the Regional Quality Assurance Committee, informing him that permission to run a pilot project at Helderstroom has been denied, due to “a security-related issue involving the whole Criminal Justice Cluster”.
“So how can he turn around and deny any knowledge of my system?” asks a disgruntled Quintin.
The IT boffin contacted the National Commissioner of Prisons, Zach Modise, but did not get a response.
It was then that he discovered, by accident, that a tender to develop an electronic inmate monitoring system was awarded to Integriton last November, a company alleged to have close ties with the ANC.
“Why would they (DCS) pay that company millions to develop a system which I already developed?” an angry Quintin says.
According to reports, the whole process has been stopped while alleged irregularities in the tender process is being investigated.
Meanwhile, Quintin has appointed the same law firm that represented Nkosana Makale in his battle to be compensated by Vodacom for inventing the Please Call Me feature.
He says: “The Department received a notice and has until 9 June to respond, then we will go ahead (with legal proceedings).
“This is not about money, this is about the system I developed. I am as serious about this case as a heart attack,” says Quintin.
Quintin is claiming R5 billion for theft of intellectual property, loss of future income and emotional stress.
But the provincial Department of Correctional Services has rejected Quintin’s claims “with the utmost contempt”.
Spokesperson Simphiwe Xako says: “The Department refutes these claims of the former inmate. We as the Western Cape Department of Correctional Services do not have the power to issue tenders.
“Mr Freddie Engelbrecht was also never part of any meetings with the former inmate.
“If he is sure of what he is saying he is free to go to a court of law to prove these claims.”