A further R1.2 billion in Covid-19 contracts has been identified by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to be investigated for signs of dodgy dealings or corruption.
According to the City Press, the contracts come from 562 suppliers, most of which are in the Eastern Cape, and again relate to the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) used to help against the spread of Covid-19.
This follows revelations in the past week that the SIU was investigating R2.2 billion worth of contracts relating to PPEs in Gauteng.
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said that president Cyril Ramaphosa’s proclamation on 23 July, gave the investigative unit the necessary mandate to confront allegations of wrongdoing by so-called ‘Covidpreneurs’ during the country’s state of disaster.
Under the state of disaster, with lockdown regulations in place, emergency spending is allowed by departments – enabling officials to deviate from legal procurement processes.
However, these were not a free-for-all, Kganyago said, and still had to be done within the guidelines issued by National Treasury.
But certain contracts have disregarded this, and these permitted deviations are being abused.
“Some people are using the deviation and emergency clauses in law to create emergencies where there aren’t emergencies,” he said.
One example of this, is where companies and officials know there are contracts coming to an end. They know these contracts are ending on a specific date, and then use emergency deviations in the act to ensure these contracts are then given to the people they want.
The spokesperson told the City Press that since Ramaphosa’s proclamation, tip-offs have come streaming in from around the country.
The scope of the SIU’s investigation covers the entire R500 billion stimulus package that makes up the country’s emergency funding, with the contracts identified in Gauteng and now the Eastern Cape just the tip of the iceberg.
The SIU is empowered by legislation to recover any funds stolen – and if the money itself is unrecoverable, it can work with the asset forfeiture unit to get the value back.
The Eastern Cape government said it would follow the Western Cape’s lead and publish a report on the findings, once the investigations have concluded.