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MPs ’not holding their breath’ on PPE cases referred to NPA by SIU

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The Standing Committee on Public Accounts is not holding its breath with regard to the cases referred to the National Prosecuting Authority by the Special Investigating Unit following investigations into irregularly awarded personal protective equipment contracts.

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa. Picture: Thokozani Mbunda/African News Agency (ANA)

THE STANDING Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) is not holding its breath with regard to the cases referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) following investigations into irregularly awarded personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts.

This after the SIU briefed the committee on its investigations into PPE contracts when it picked up suspected criminal actions.

SIU head Andy Mothibi said 20 new cases were referred to the NPA since their briefing of the committee in September.

“We picked up evidence pointing to criminal action. We referred about 20 new matters and these would vary from private companies to state officials,” Mothibi said.

There were 13 referrals from the Gauteng Department of Health, four in the Eastern Cape Department of Education, two in the Limpopo Department of Health and one in City of Johannesburg.

Mothibi said there had also been arrests of directors of companies, court appearances and acknowledgement of debts.

“The NPA acknowledged receipt of the referrals and they are considering evidence referred,” he said.

He said the SIU had received feedback on the matters.

Mothibi revealed that the 20 new cases bring the number of cases referred to the NPA to 148.

“Our expectation is that the NPA will consider and make necessary action so that prosecution follows,” he said.

Mothibi said the committee should consider inviting the NPA to give a progress report on the matters referred to them.

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said he noted Mothibi’s request that they call the NPA to report themselves.

“I am not holding my breath. The issue of progress, in so far as NPA is concerned, there is lots to be desired, to say the least,” Hlengwa said, adding that very little detail could come from the briefing with the NPA.

“We are just not seeing a needle moving,” he said. “We can call them and listen to whatever they have to say. I am not holding my breath.”

DA MP Benedicta van Minen said she supported the call for the NPA to be invited to make a presentation on the cases referred to them.

EFF MP Ntombovuyo Mente said the NPA cases “took forever”.

“It looks like the issue of the PPE is not getting the seriousness it deserves. There is laissez faire from the NPA,” Mente said.

“What do they do to ensure there is successful prosecution of all the culprits?” she asked.

Mothibi said the SIU was doing its work in line with the memorandum of understanding it had signed with the NPA.

He explained that the SIU provided further evidence when it was required.

“We further refer to the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), but in that regard we decided to bring the DPCI in the memorandum so that we copy them the referrals,” he said, adding that there was an administrative process to open dockets.

Mothibi said that when the SIU was required to work with the DPCI, it ensured that it provided further evidence that was needed to enable the NPA to make a decision to prosecute.

“We continue to follow up in the context of the memorandum of understanding we have,” he added.

Political Bureau

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