Picture: Katie Harp/Unsplash
Picture: Katie Harp/Unsplash

Firm probed for allegedly placing 70% label on alcohol-free santiser

By Siphokazi Vuso Time of article published Oct 26, 2020

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Cape Town - A company supplying the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (Deff) with hand sanitisers in the Western Cape has landed in hot water for allegedly forging labels indicating that the product was 70% alcohol, when it actually had none.

Kanga Business Management (KBM) was named by the department in a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries recently, highlighting the work of state institution investigations.

KBM is one of the department’s 31 suppliers awarded contracts for procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The company supplied and delivered 3 500 gel hand sanitisers and 250 boxes of surgical masks to the value of R494 500, but it was discovered the hand sanitisers were allegedly alcohol-free.

“The department established after the delivery and distribution that there was a fraudulent sticker indicating that the product had 70% alcohol content placed over a declaration that the product was alcohol free,” Deff spokesperson Albi Modise said.

Deff portfolio committee chairperson Fikile Xasa had said: “The committee was informed that the department awarded 31 contracts with a total expenditure of R18.8 million for the procurement of PPE. The committee is pleased that no findings have been issued in relation to the transactions that the department engaged in.

“The committee has noted a complaint to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and National Treasury from a Cape Town-based company that alleges that Kanga Business Management, one of the companies that supplied PPE to the department, is dealing in their products without their knowledge.”

Modise said the matter was being investigated by the SIU, and all documents relating to the probe were submitted to the unit.

The SIU confirmed it was investigating the “cloning of a legitimate product from a bona fide supplier, which supplied hand sanitiser to the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries in the WCP which was bottled under a false or a forged, cloned label and product information.”

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the investigation was still ongoing.

KBM owner Khonano Madima said yesterday that he was told by the SIU not to comment on the matter.

“It is my company. I have spoken to the SIU and this matter is still with them and they strictly told me not to communicate with anyone about this, either from the department or anywhere else.

“I should just wait for them to get back to me on the matter. Should I be saying anything to the media I would be going against what I was told.

“It’s just better for you to wait for the SIU to conclude what they are investigating,” he said.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said: “The case is part of the referrals to the fusion centre hub and is included in the list of cases that SIU says must be investigated. The dates suggest that the case has been fairly recently referred and therefore the NPA will process it to the Hawks for criminal investigation.”

The probe into KBM came as the Hawks and NPA continue with a nationwide crackdown on companies involved in corruption related to the procurement of PPE, among the latest being the arrest of 41-year-old Mthatha business owner Pumza Poshee Gambula.

She was released on bail of R20 000 following her brief appearance in the Mthatha Magistrate’s Court on two charges of fraud amounting to R4.8 million.

“Between March 2020 and June 2020, during the stricter levels of Covid-19 lockdown, Phathilizwi Training Institute submitted two invoices of R3 036 000 and R1 821 600 to the municipality. The company claimed for conducting “door-to-door community awareness workshops on Covid-19” in different wards in the Mhlontlo and Port St John’s Local Municipalities, which fall under the OR Tambo District Municipality.

“The state alleges that the accused and their employees visited the wards in these municipalities. However, members of the community were asked to write down their names for Covid-19 social grants.

“No Covid-19 awareness workshops were conducted.

“Attendance registers attached to the invoices as proof of services rendered contained names of people who were not staying in some of the wards that were visited by the accused as part of their ‘door-to-door awareness campaign on Covid19’. These documents were widely circulated on social media, leading to a massive national outcry,” said the NPA.

The claimed amounts were not paid to the accused, but the NPA said the municipality stood to suffer a potential prejudice by means of the said false pretences.

Meanwhile pressure is mounting on Gauteng Premier David Makhura to appoint a new MEC for health to replace Bandile Masuku, who was axed following his links to the Covid-19 PPE tender scandal.

ANC provincial spokesperson Bones Modise said the PEC expected Makhura to make an announcement soon.

Cape Times

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