Gauteng PPE tender corruption uncovered

A Gauteng Health Department official linked to the personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement scandal has this week been suspended.

Premier David Makhura said that his department received information from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). He said that the SIU flagged two officials, who allegedly enabled and facilitated procurement corruption.

One has since resigned, while the other official was suspended with immediate effect on Friday.

The Sunday Times meanwhile, reported that supply chain chief director Thandi Pino and the health department’s former chief financial officer, Kabelo Lehloenya were named by the SIU as being allegedly behind the irregular awarding PPE contracts.

One of these contracts was reportedly worth R125 million and was allocated to Thandisizwe Diko, the husband of president Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko.

Khusela Diko has since taken leave while the matter is investigated, while health MEC Bandile Masuku has also been placed on leave – reportedly due to fears that his wife’s friendship with the spokesperson could have had an influence over the awarding of the contract.

A presentation has been prepared for premier Makhura by the provincial treasury’s audit services which reportedly reveals the following:

  • R4.5 million was paid to companies that did not supply any goods.
  • R5 million was paid to companies to deliver PPE even though the department had not contracts with them.
  • R12 million worth of goods were delivered before the issue of purchase orders.
  • R82 million worth of goods were ordered from companies that were not registered with the Treasury’s central supplier database.
  • R239 million worth of goods and services were ordered from companies that were not tax-compliant and whose bank accounts had not been verified.

The premier said provincial government, together with the SIU, is pursuing a legal and criminal case.

Several companies employed to supply PPEs are being investigated for possibly inflating prices or other unethical practices, the premier said.

Makhura said they are moving swiftly in rooting out the rot and are dealing with corruption allegations that have besieged the province.

“The damning allegations of corruption regarding the procurement of PPE in Gauteng have profoundly eroded public confidence in the collective work of our provincial government in the fight against Covid-19,” he said.

An internal investigation into the e-Government Department for irregular procurement is underway, with a contract already having been cancelled.

Meanwhile, the premier and 10 MECs will subjecting themselves before the State Security Agency for a lifestyle audit, Makhura said.

City Press reported that millions of rands in PPE tenders have been awarded to companies and individuals tied to ANC secretary general and former Free State premier, Ace Magashule.

Earlier reports showed that Magashule’s sons were also awarded tenders to the value of R2.7 million after the provincial treasury decided to centralise Covid-19 supply procurement.

Magashule said in an interview with News24 this week, that there is no law that prohibits this.

“Tell me of one leader of the ANC, who has not done business with government… you are looking at [just] government; [other] people are working with banks,” said Magashule.

“If the law is made for all of us and everybody, I will abide by such a law. Our kids and ourselves would know that there is legislation – which bars, your children, your family from doing business [with the state].

“If that law is passed in South Africa, I think it will assist,” he said.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola on Thursday announced that 36 corruption-related cases are “at various stages of investigation and prosecution”.

“Some unscrupulous individuals and companies have been looting State resources meant to provide food to families in need and PPE to frontline officials, particularly healthcare workers.

“Such criminal and immoral activities include inflating quoted prices, intercepting and redirecting food parcels meant for the poor, and acts of fraud involving funds designated for alleviating the hardships of employees and businesses affected by the shutting down of economic activities during the national lockdown,” said Lamola.

Read: Government to discuss new lockdown rules for South Africa this week

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Gauteng PPE tender corruption uncovered