The SIU has vowed to probed these companies.
Johannesburg – No companies which allegedly benefited from the irregular personal protective equipment contracts will be spared from investigation by the Special Investigative Unit (SIU).
This was the commitment of Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi and acting Health MEC Jacob Mamabolo when they appeared before Parliament’s portfolio committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Lesufi assured the committee that all 102 companies suspected to have benefited from the looting would be thoroughly scrutinised. Those found to have flouted Covid-19 regulations to supply PPEs to the provincial government would face possible criminal investigation.
He said his government had given the SIU at six weeks to complete its investigations.
“Not a single company will not be investigated,” he said. Mamabolo corroborated this, saying they had urged the SIU get to the bottom of the matter and to conduct its investigations swiftly and promptly.
Lesufi and Mamabolo made the assurance after committee chairperson Faith Muthambi expressed concern that while the country had to borrow money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, to some the pandemic was an opportunity for rampant fraud and corruption.
“We should all be concerned about these people who unashamedly steal money meant for personal protective equipment (PPE) for nurses and doctors, for food parcels for the poor, for workers who find themselves unemployed and for hospitals that require beds and ventilators. These funds are meant for communities in desperate need of services,” Muthambi said.
The Gauteng Treasury – which discovered the massive fraud and corruption – told the committee that the fraud and corruption was on a large scale and involved food parcels, other procurements and the supply of PPEs.
It also expressed its concern over the disruptions and vandalism of schools by communities that demanded their closure during the lockdown, saying this affected learners at those schools.
Lesufi told the committee that the South African National Defence Force had assisted with the mass screening of learners, and decontamination and disinfection of schools. The SANDF also provided protection for schools and learners.
The committee further heard that learners would continue to receive food from schools during the school break.
Lesufi also assured the committee about the national revised annual teaching plans and the extended date for the last term, which were put in place to ensure the continuation of the academic programme in the province’s schools.
Mamabolo, meanwhile, said he had already visited 26 health institutions in the province including two PPE storage facilities in the past few days, and that the health department had sufficient PPEs for health-care workers.