Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Task team to probe ’possible wrongdoing’ in SANDF’s R260m Cuban drug deal

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Mar 4, 2021

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Cape Town – Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Thursday appointed a task team to investigate allegations of the importation of the R260 million medical supplies of Heberon Interferon-B from Cuba without following regulatory and procurement procedures.

Spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said Mapisa-Nqakula appointed the three-member task team to investigate the veracity of allegations which arose at the end of last year amid allegations involving Defence Intelligence and the purchasing of Interferon- B.

“The minister views these allegations in a very serious light and the task team is expected to prepare a report within six months with recommendations to address any wrongdoing uncovered whether of a criminal or disciplinary nature, and to also include broader recommendations on how to stop such behaviour and prevent it going forward should any of the allegations be confirmed,” Dlamini said.

He said the team consisted of former inspector-general of intelligence Zola Ngcakani as the chairperson, along with former director-general Dr Cassius Lubisi and former director-general of the National Intelligence Agency Billy Masetlha.

The appointment comes after it was reported earlier this month that Mapisa-Nqakula has decided to launch the investigation into the procurement and the importation of the drug.

The defence and military veteran portfolio committee had expressed serious concerns with the lack of planning and disregard for regulatory rules and procurement of the drug.

It had even resolved to invite the chief of the South African Military Health Service, Surgeon-General Lieutenant-General Zola Dabula; the chief financial officer, Siphiwe Sokhela; the chief of logistics, Lieutenant-General Jabulani Mbuli; and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), to further understand the reasons behind the procurement of medical supplies.

“To say we are shocked is an understatement and we need accountability on how such large consignments could be procured outside of the rules and regulations set out to ensure safety, transparency and good governance and that there was value for money,” committee chairperson Cyril Xaba said at the time.

This was after it received a special audit report on the financial management of Covid-19 funds by the Department of Defence from the Office of the Auditor-General.

The report had highlighted shortcomings such as non-submission of information that resulted in a number of audit limitations, inadequate planning for the procurement of Heberon and lack of evidence of prior approval by the Sahpra, among others.

Political Bureau

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