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SANDF tightening controls after fraud and corruption amounting to R1.19bn revealed across all divisions

NEW Defence Minister Thandi Modise, whose department is riddled with corruption.

NEW Defence Minister Thandi Modise, whose department is riddled with corruption.

Published Sep 8, 2021


DURBAN - THE Department of Defence said it was busy tightening checks and balances after a report to the portfolio committee on defence and military veterans had revealed more than 90 cases of corruption and fraud amounting to roughly R1.19 billion across all divisions of the SANDF.

Defence spokesperson Simphiwe Dlamini told the Daily News on Tuesday that the tightening of checks and balances was in line with the Public Finance Management Act and internal audits to prevent similar incidents.

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Last Friday the department presented the report to the portfolio committee which showed that some of the cases date as far back as 1998, although most of the cases were in the past decade. The report stated that cases were being handled by the inspectorate division, military police, legal services, defence intelligence and the finance division.

According to the presentation, 40 of the 447 cases received or opened have been finalised; 48 were in the military court; 16 in the commercial crimes court; five in civilian courts while 354 cases were still under investigation. There have been 14 convictions this year, ranging from minor fines to dismissal from the SANDF.

There were 93 high-profile (above R100 000) cases. The presentation did not provide much information on these cases, but did detail the division, the case concerns and the amounts involved.

The report cited the South African army as the most corrupt and fraudulent division by a significant margin, with 60 high-profile cases.

In the 2017/2018 financial year, the army used R120 million to buy 20 000 software licences, but only 15 000 were delivered, and the military police were awaiting feedback from the Special Investigating Unit on the outcome of the investigation.

“In comparison to the other divisions, the second-highest number of high-profile cases lies within the South African Military Health Service, with six cases involving procurement of protective equipment (PPE) for R400m that were awarded to one company,” read a statement from the department.

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The report of the case has been submitted to the Chief of Joint Operations of the SANDF, General Rudzani Maphwanya, and Secretary for Defence Gladys Kudjoe for a decision.

According to the department, the SA navy awarded a tender for R52m to a private contractor for maintenance and repair of operational mechanical equipment and cleaning and repair of bulk storage tanks in the 2013/2014 financial year. The case is at the commercial court in Bellville awaiting decision.

The SA Air Force was under investigation for awarding R34m to a company that was not approved by the tender board to supply X-ray machines and scanners.

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According to the presentation, well over half of the high-profile corruption and fraud cases had been opened in the past five years, possibly indicating that the department was going through its worst spell of corruption and fraud since its inception in 1994.

“The military police are still investigating some cases that are now 13 years old. One case still under investigation, a fraud case in the SA army for orders and salaries claimed for days not worked, dates back to 1998,” said the department.

Kudjoe said a reason for cases taking so long and the backlog of cases was due to the lack of capacity of the inspector-general and military police. The court system and defendants using the system to buy more time was another reason cases were taking so long. The presentation was lambasted by members of the portfolio committee for lacking critical information and leaving more questions than answers.

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