Gauteng government wants PPE tender looters blacklisted
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Johannesburg - The Gauteng provincial legislature’s health portfolio committee wants all those implicated and found guilty for irregular issuing of personal protective equipment (PPE) tenders to be blacklisted and stolen funds, if any, recovered.
The health portfolio committee, through its chairperson Rebecca Phaladi-Digamela, issued these strong remarks after the Gauteng Department of Health fired its chief director supply chain management, Thandi Pino, for her involvement in the irregular award of tenders worth millions of rand.
Pino took employment with the Gauteng Health in March last year and the acts of irregularities happened in April - soon after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the R500 billion Covid-19 funds to fight the deadly pandemic.
She was fired early this month following an internal disciplinary hearing after the recommendations of the Special Investigative Unit (SIU), which is probing other people linked to the alleged acts of irregularity including former Health MEC Bandile Masuku.
The issuing of PPE tenders were handled in Pino’s office. Independent Media understands that Pino provided the SIU with a sworn statement which allowed the law enforcement agency to get to the bottom of their investigations.
On Tuesday, Phaladi-Digamela said her committee welcomed the dismissal of the senior official in the supply chain unit of the Department of Health in Gauteng for the official’s role in the awarding of illegal PPE tenders.
“The portfolio committee views this as a positive step in the fight against corruption and hopes this will go a long way in arresting the scourge of corruption in our departments. The portfolio committee has always advocated for the department to apply consequence management when supply chain laws are contravened and processes deliberately disregarded.
“The portfolio committee would like to see other aspects of consequence management applied in this case, such as the recovery of the stolen money or assets forfeited to the state and the blacklisting of the official concerned to prevent the official from resurfacing in another government department or another provincial administration,” she said.
Phaladi-Digamela said that her portfolio committee’s main concern was the lack of proper systems in the department of health which should ordinarily prevent this kind of corrupt practices by being detected before incurring any expenditure.
She said the portfolio committee would further engage the department on its plans in the fight against corruption through parliamentary channels such as committee meetings and public hearings.
Similar sentiments were also expressed by DA’s health spokesperson, Jack Bloom, who has been instrumental in calling for action against those involved in the irregularities since after the government incurred losses of more than R2.9 billion.
“I welcome the dismissal of Thandi Pino which should be followed by a criminal prosecution for her alleged role in the PPE scandal. It is clear that she did not act alone, so a court will hopefully probe the role of others, including former chief financial officer Kabelo Lehloenya, former head of department Mkhululi Lukhele, and also Bandile Masuku who was health MEC at the time.
“Every effort should be made to expedite criminal proceedings in this matter, and the return of money that was unlawfully spent,” Bloom said.