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DA says City of Joburg’s PPE expenditure report ’vague and whitewashed’

Joburg mayor Geoff Makhubo says the city had commissioned its own internal audit of Covid-19 procurement and expenditure which had unearthed some areas of non-compliance. Picture: Chris Collingridge/African News Agency (ANA)

Joburg mayor Geoff Makhubo says the city had commissioned its own internal audit of Covid-19 procurement and expenditure which had unearthed some areas of non-compliance. Picture: Chris Collingridge/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 4, 2021

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Johannesburg - The City of Joburg has reaffirmed its commitment to transparency and accountability as the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is expected to give feedback on its findings on PPE (personal protective equipment) procurement so far.

This comes after the DA Joburg caucus in the city set off alarm bells on the city’s PPE expenditure reports, citing that the report provided was tainted with fraud and corruption.

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SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago refused to comment on the unit’s investigations into the city’s PPE expenditure, stating that outcomes of investigations into allegations on the Covid-19 PPE procurement could be expected tomorrow.

However, mayor Geoff Makhubo, said the city had commissioned its own internal audit of Covid-19 procurement and expenditure which had unearthed some areas of non-compliance and possible illegal activities which were now under investigation by the SIU and the city’s Group Forensic and Investigative Services.

“We are eagerly awaiting the finalisation of Phase 2 of the Internal Audit Report, which must be processed via the Group Audit Committee and to the mayoral committee and finally, Council. Once this report is finalised, we will once again move swiftly to act against any persons who may be implicated or alleged to have acted improperly.”

Makhubo reportedly came down hard on the city manager and other responsible managers after there were delays with the tabling of the final report which was due to council in December.

“As a city we are satisfied that in the best possible ways, we have managed to contribute significantly to the well-being and safety of our residents and employees during the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, the DA in Joburg has remained adamant that the PPE expenditure report provided by the city is a vague and whitewashed list of items that is scrubbed of any details.

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The party alleges that the latest report indicates that the total spend is R234 million, despite an internal audit report from July last year which had over R600m as the total spend.

According to the party’s leader, Leah Knott, more than R400m was flagged as highly suspicious.

“The report has since been buried and any demands to bring it before the oversight committees are ignored. Most companies that were listed as suppliers have no track record of supplying PPE or medical equipment.”

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Knott said prices for masks, gloves and sanitisers were all over the place and added that 1 500 city employees illegally claimed Covid benefits.

“City Power paid R3 000 for 100ml of sanitiser gel, R5 000 for a mask, and R50 for a pair of gloves. Other companies paid a fraction of this. Over R45m has been spent on deep-cleaning and fogging of city buildings despite the National Department of Health advising against this.”

Knott said the internal investigation conducted by the City indicated that legislation and policies on procurement were grossly violated, which led to the irregular expenditure of over R80m within the first two weeks of the state of disaster.

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“The mayor’s response to this was to claim that he has no control over officials and City companies, and to pass the buck for everything to the SIU. This is despite the SIU only being appointed in November 2020.”

The Star

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