R10.5 billion under investigation for ‘Covidpreneur’ looting in South Africa

 ·20 Oct 2020

A group of South African law enforcement agencies say that they are investigating more than R10.5 billion in potentially corrupt coronavirus spending across South Africa.

This is more than double the amount under investigation two months ago, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said in a presentation to parliament on Tuesday (20 October).

The SIU said that most of this reported irregular spending was at the provincial government level, with the majority of complaints including:

  • Over-pricing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
  • Possible recoveries relating to under-delivery by service providers;
  • Service providers were awarded contracts over R1 million whilst not being registered for VAT;
  • The use of the emergency provisions was found to be incorrect;
  • PPE price differentiation was beyond market-related prices;
  • Service providers charged rates for the supply of PPEs in excess of the regulated pricing lists as issued by Treasury;
  • Certain service providers were found to have only been registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission during February and March 2020;
  • Certain service providers were already in the de-registration process when they quoted and were awarded contracts;
  • Non-essential goods were procured under the Covid-19 emergency provisions;
  • Certain companies were awarded BBBEE points as level 1 contributors when they, in fact, did not qualify.

The fight against corruption is one of the core focuses of South Africa’s new economic recovery plan, says president Cyril Ramaphosa.

In a presentation to parliament on Tuesday (20 October), Ramaphosa said that decisive action against crime and corruption is essential to ‘inclusive growth’.

“The decisive action we have taken to prevent, detect and act against Covid-related corruption will strengthen the broader fight against crime,” Ramaphosa said.

“The Special Investigating Unit has made significant progress in probing allegations of criminal conduct in all public entities during the national state of disaster.”

Ramaphosa said that the work of the SIU and its investigations will be made public once all the due processes have been completed.

“Law enforcement agencies are being strengthened and provided with adequate resources to enable the identification and swift prosecution of corruption and fraud,” he said.

“We wish to assure all South African that there will be no political interference with the work of law enforcement agencies.”

Read: South Africa’s updated list of high-risk countries comes at a cost

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