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Nehawu says its members died without proper PPE while the money ‘earmarked for the fight against Covid-19 has been looted’

Staff members wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Charlotte Maxeke hospital. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Staff members wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Charlotte Maxeke hospital. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 26, 2022

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Durban – The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) called on the government and relevant law enforcement authorities to implement the referrals of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) Report into allegations relating to the misuse of Covid-19 funds across all spheres of government.

The union was speaking after President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the public release of the final SIU report on Covid-19-related procurement by government departments.

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National Nehawu spokesperson Lwazi Nkolonzi said the union welcomed the release of the report.

He said the publication of the report followed Ramaphosa’s call on July 23, 2020 for the SIU to probe any allegations of impropriety and misuse of Covid-19 funds.

“The SIU report has laid bare the extent to which the Covid-19 funds were misused through acts of corruption, fraud, maladministration and mismanagement of public funds,” said the union.

Nkolonzi said the report also details how procurement processes were disregarded in awarding irregular contracts amounting to more than R7 billion to service providers.

“As Nehawu, we find it despicable that billions of rand were squandered in such a manner as detailed by the SIU report,” he said.

The union said this money could have been correctly directed towards ensuring that health-care workers were provided with the necessary resources in the fight against the pandemic.

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“Our members perished in the line of duty without adequate and proper personal protective equipment (PPE), yet the money that was earmarked for the fight against Covid-19 has been looted,” said Nehawu.

Nkolonzi said this money could have easily been used to permanently employ community health workers, who played an instrumental role in the fight against the pandemic.

He added that the funds could have also been used to pay public servants their salary increment but instead the government reneged on the implementation of Resolution 1 of 2018 while those politically connected were benefiting from the proceeds of fraud and corruption through PPE tenders.

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“We call on the government and relevant law enforcement authorities to implement the referrals of the SIU Report which include, among others, criminal prosecution, litigation, recouping money, setting aside contracts and instituting disciplinary action against officials,” said Nehawu.

THE MERCURY

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