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Ramaphosa urges the NPA to act swiftly against Covid-19 PPE tender fraudsters

President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his hope after releasing the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report into fraud and corruption of Covid-19 funds to the public on Tuesday. Photo: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his hope after releasing the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report into fraud and corruption of Covid-19 funds to the public on Tuesday. Photo: GCIS

Published Jan 26, 2022

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President Cyril Ramaphosa is pinning his hopes on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to diligently and expeditiously prosecute all those individuals and companies that had defrauded national and provincial governments’ Covid-19 funds.

Ramaphosa expressed his hope after releasing the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report into fraud and corruption of Covid-19 funds to the public yesterday.

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The 737-page report paints a picture of widespread looting and the collusion of senior government officials who awarded personal protective equipment (PPE) tenders to their friends and relatives. In the report, the SIU also gives detailed accounts of how they had to approach the Special Tribunal to set aside the R266 million tenders allocated to Digital Vibes; R172m PPE tenders awarded to controversial businessman Hamilton Ndlovu by the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS). The trial date for the NHLS is set for March 11 and 12.

Next Tuesday, the SIU will face off with Tembile Sangoni, the director of Zakheni Supplies, for the cancellation of R103.7m PPE contract awarded to him on April 20, 2020 by the former Gauteng chief financial officer, Kabelo Lehloenya.

In the report, the SIU says one of its investigators received information that Sangoni is a family member of Khusela Lwandlekazi Diko (formerly known as Sangoni).

According to the report handed to Ramaphosa, Sangoni is a close friend and business partner of Loyiso Masuku – the wife of former Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku.

The trial date to set aside the tender is set for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The SIU also referred several matters such as the R10m cycles tender of the Eastern Cape Health Department to the SIU. Former Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba and others have been charged with illegal procurement while a head of department and officials in Limpopo are under investigation by the Hawks.

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Several companies in KwaZulu-Natal are also facing criminal prosecution for defrauding the provincial Department of Social Development and several municipalities such as eThekwini and uMngeni Local Municipality. The report depicts a common trend in provincial governments and their local authorities.

The SIU has also complained to Ramaphosa that provincial governments such as those of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape had been slow to discipline officials fingered in wrongdoing.

The SIU has investigated 5 467 contracts awarded to 3 066 service providers with a total value of R14.3 billion.

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Investigations into 4 549 contracts have been finalised, of which 2 803 contracts were found to be irregular. This amounts to 62% of the finalised investigations.

Ramaphosa said: “The submission of the final report is an important step in our fight against corruption in the public and private sectors, and against maladministration.

“It is unacceptable that so many contracts associated with saving lives and protecting livelihoods were irregular, unlawful or fraudulent. This investigation demonstrates our determination to root out corruption and to deal with perpetrators. The final report details matters referred by the SIU to the National Prosecuting Authority, departments and entities in the public sector and other parties, who will finalise the process of bringing wrongdoers to book and addressing weaknesses identified by the SIU investigation.”

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Since the start of the investigation, the SIU, working with other agencies, has made progress in managing consequences arising from the investigation.

A total of 45 matters – constituting a combined value of R2.1bn – have been enrolled with the Special Tribunal on Corruption, Fraud and Illicit Money Flows. The Special Tribunal has a statutory mandate to recover public funds syphoned from the fiscus through corruption, fraud and illicit money flows, and engages in civil action that is more flexible and less time-consuming than adversarial.

The SIU has made 224 referrals for disciplinary action against officials in government departments or entities.

The SIU has made 386 referrals to the National Prosecuting Authority, as well as three referrals for executive action.

The SIU has made 330 referrals for administrative action, which includes blacklisting.

The rand value of cash and assets to be recovered on the basis of the investigation is R551.5m, while cash and assets recovered to date total R34.2m.

The value of potential loss prevented by the investigation is R114.2m, while contracts set aside amount to R170.4m.

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Political Bureau

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