Durban - An Eastern Cape Health Department official has been sentenced to 10 years behind bars after he was convicted of fraud.
This week Ayanda Matinise, 37, was found guilty of fraudulently awarding a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) tender worth millions of rand during the pandemic.
He was sentenced in the Mthatha Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.
According to the NPA, Matinise, a former messenger in the office of the Eastern Cape Department of Health used his proximity to the office of the then MEC, Sindiswa Gomba, to commit the fraud.
During the period between September 9 and 17, 2020 Matinise wrote, signed, and sent a forged letter to Falaz Protection Services (PTY) LTD (Falaz) under the false pretences that the Eastern Cape Health Department needed PPE equipment.
“He wanted to procure 700 000 nitrile, non-sterile, powder-free examination KN 95 surgical masks.
“Consequently, Falaz submitted the quotation and a declaration of interest to Matinise, accompanied by a quotation valued at R23.7 million.
“Upon the authorisation of such supply and delivery through the forged commitment letter, a delivery of consignment of PPEs was made by Falaz at the Eastern Cape Department of Health OR Tambo District stores in Mthatha,” said NPA spokesperson Luxolo Tyali.
“As the country was in the State of Disaster, this allowed for some deviation from the ordinary procurement procedures,” he said.
Tyali said when the director of Falaz demanded payment and even paid Matinise R3 000 to expedite the payment, it became apparent that the officials responsible for payment and issuing of commitment letters had no knowledge of the forged commitment letter.
“The company decided to collect the consignment, but large quantities of it were missing, including 130 000 KN 95 masks and 70 000 surgical masks, to the value of R2.6 million.
“Investigations conducted by the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) and the Hawks led to the arrest of Matinise,” Tyali said.
The NPA said during the trial Matinise denied any wrong-doing and changed his version of events at least three times.
“During trial, he pleaded not guilty, downplaying his role to that of a mere messenger and attempted to implicate the officials who blew the whistle as having been involved in large scale corruption,” Tyali said.
The court rejected his defence and sentenced him to 10 years behind bars.
The NPA said they found compelling and exceptional circumstances and deviated from the 15 years jail term.
Eastern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Barry Madolo welcomed the sentencing of one of the people who used the Covid-19 pandemic to illegally enrich themselves.