Pretoria - The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has referred 33 criminal cases to law enforcement agencies for prosecution in relation to a R25 million personal protective equipment (PPE) contract awarded by the Limpopo Department of Health.
The Pretoria News has reliably learnt that the unit also sent a letter to MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba demanding clarity about the matter.
The SIU’s action comes more than a year after sister paper the Sunday Independent reported that the Limpopo Department of Health had irregularly awarded PPE contracts worth R125m.
It remains unclear which contracts are the subject of the SIU’s criminal referral, with spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago saying those details were contained in a confidential report which would be handed to President Cyril Ramaphosa this week.
Kganyago said: “We have finalised the matter and will be handing the report to the president this week for consideration. What I can tell you is that we have 33 referrals… and that does not mean it’s 33 people. As an example, one person might have five referrals alone. But those are details we can’t get into for now. We have also sent findings to the MEC.”
Earlier, the SIU said that the unspecified R25.2m contract had been declared invalid and set aside. “An SIU investigation has found that the R25.2m PPE tender awarded by the Limpopo Department of Health was invalid and should be set aside. The SIU will approach the Special Tribunal to have the contract declared invalid and unlawful. Criminal evidence referred to NPA,” the SIU said in a tweet.
Ramathuba denied having received any correspondence from the SIU.
“Maybe it’s still on the way. I will check with the head of department but so far, I have not received anything from them.
“I’m waiting for the report from the SIU. But up to now, I know nothing and can’t comment much. I only act when I have received the report. As of now, I don’t even know who is implicated and who is not. I have only seen things on Twitter. But I have received nothing,” said Ramathuba.
Limpopo Department of Health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said the department could not comment as yet because nothing had been finalised. “We have, from the beginning, welcomed the investigation and it’s a process we can’t do much about. We are allowing the SIU to do its work until it’s final, and we will await in that regard.”
In August SIU head Andy Mothibi visited the province to brief Premier Stan Mathabatha about the findings of the report expected to be handed to Ramaphosa this week.
The investigation into PPE procurement in the province focused on Covid-19 contracts to the tune of R486m, and which involved at least 42 service providers.
Independent Newspapers previously reported that politically connected individuals and other ANC activists had benefited from Limpopo Department of Health’s PPE contracts.
The SIU, which is probing multibillion-rand PPE procurement fraud and corruption across the country, has since laid criminal charges against some companies and frozen their bank accounts for their role in tender irregularities.