Hawks, NPA and SIU join forces to tackle Covid-19 linked corruption
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Cape Town - The corruption-busting units under the umbrella of the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) have joined forces to tackle allegations they have received in connection with the Covid-19 relief funds and corruption.
On Friday, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head Andy Mothibi told MPs that his unit together with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks have come together to optimise the use of litigation processes.
"That will end with recovery of stolen money and assets," Mothibi said.
He also said they have received allegations of corruption regarding Covid-19 related to relief funds and other irregular procurement processes during the pandemic.
"It is non-compliance with the Public Finance Management Act and other related regulations on procurement."
Mothibi said each of the ACTT units was handling different matters on their own.
"We have come together as ACTT to enable integration to deal with those matters efficiently," he said.
Mothibi told MPs that when a matter was reported it was referred to the Hawks for criminal investigations, and that when the elite police unit comes across contracts entered into irregularly, they too refer to SIU to set a process to cancel affected contracts.
"We put a process that allows us to act and respond quickly on these matters," he added.
Speed, Mothibi said, was important in taking up criminal, civil and disciplinary actions.
"We have coined a strategy to further improve our integrated approach."
Mothibi also said because of the number of allegations the SIU has received from areas such as KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, it was working on a pre-proclamation aimed at seeking a national proclamation on Covid-19 related matters.
He said the SIU did not see a fundamental change in their strategy and annual performance plans as a result of the pandemic.
However, the SIU was not declared as an essential service during lockdown level 5.
This was despite their officials seconded to the investigations into the Gauteng IT tender and Beit Bridge fencing projects.
"We issued permits when required to do work," Mothibi said, adding that their officials who were seconded to the probes were making good progress.
Mothibi said most of their employees have worked from home and the SIU did not invoice government departments the way they were supposed to.
An estimated R35m could not be invoiced in April and May. The unit was owed R420m by departments.
But things would change under the relaxation of lockdown as they are allowed to work and the unit was preparing for its workforce to return to work in phases amid its submission to be included as an essential service.
"We need to think in a way not to delay our investigations," Mothibi said, adding that Covid-19 was ensuring innovation in doing things and enabled them to work remotely and effectively.
Mothibi sang praise on the resuscitation of the Special Tribunal saying there was no excuse to recover stolen money.
"We are seeing real value added by the Special Tribunal. It is bringing in an improvement. We are receiving a good service from that part ."
Mothibi said enrollment of their cases has improved.
"We got 20 matters estimated at R2.1 billion. There are 15 more on the pipeline to be enrolled in a few days," he said.
However, Mothibi said there was a need to ensure there was case administration.
"We look forward to these cases adjudicated. "
The SIU annual performance plan shows that the entity plans to recover R140 in civil matters and R800m contracts set aside in this financial year.
It wants 100 civil servants taken for disciplinary hearings and 75 referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecutions.
Mothibi said they have a memorandum of understanding with 2the Office of Auditor General which is empowered to refer to them matters picked up during audits of finances at state institutions.
"The auditor general points to a number of irregularities. About 80 to 85% are procurement based," he said.
Mothibi added that there were 86 proclamations that were in the pipeline.