Court ruling on female condoms
Female condoms issued by the government may soon be readily available at distributing points in the country after the Pretoria High Court yesterday turned down an application by the Finance Minister for leave to appeal against an earlier order that the company which supplied these condoms, should continue doing so.
Judge Sulet Potterill in September set aside the tender awarded to KwaZulu-Natal company Siqamba Medical Ltd. This was after it emerged that the tender was wrongly awarded to this company as the condoms were not approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). They were manufactured in China from polyurethane and not the required nitrile latex.
The product was also 20 percent smaller in diameter than the standard issued condoms. This came to light after the company Sekunjalo Investments Corporation (applicant) challenged the State Tender Board’s award to the KwaZulu-Natal company.
The government acknowledged that the tender was wrongly awarded, but earlier argued that the matter should be referred back to the State Tender Board for reconsideration.
But Judge Potterill said the applicant was the only tender bidder to comply with all the requirements and it had been supplying these condoms since 2008. She earlier commented that it was “unthinkable that a government department granted a tender which would let loose in South Africa condoms not complying with specifications set by the Department of Health”.
She added that there were no facts to indicate that, if the applicant did not “stir the pot”, the respondent’s condoms would not have been distributed among the unsuspecting public.
Although the Minister of Finance during the main application agreed that Sekunjalo Investments’ condoms were “tailor-made”, tried and tested, he now asked the court for leave to appeal against the order that the tender be awarded to the applicant.
The minister wanted either the Appeal Court in Bloemfontein or a full bench (three judges) of the high court to hear the appeal.
The fear was that if the leave to appeal was granted, the country would run dry out of state-issued female condoms until the legal battle had been disposed of.
Judge Potterill, however, yesterday turned down the application for leave to appeal. - Pretoria News Weekend