Head of the Special Investigative Unit advocate Andy Mothibi said it was disheartening to see state officials in all spheres of government implicated in unlawful and illegal activities in procurement processes.
Johannesburg – The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has uncovered widespread looting in the R13 billion spent by government departments and state institutions to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) since the declaration of the state of national disaster.
The unit is investigating 2 556 PPE contracts awarded to 1 774 companies worth more than R13.3bn.
SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi said on Friday the contracts were awarded between April and November last year and the unit has finalised investigations into 164 PPE contracts valued at R3.5bn.
According to the advocate, more than half or 1 541 of contracts to the value of R6.8bn were currently being investigated and investigations into another 851 deals were yet to commence.
“It appears that persons in positions of authority within some state institutions believed that the declaration of a national state of disaster meant that all procurement is automatically now conducted on an emergency basis, and without compliance with any of the normal prescripts regulating public sector procurement, but without realising that even emergency procurement must still be conducted in accordance with certain minimum prescripts to ensure that such processes remain fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective as prescribed by section 217(1) of the Constitution,” said Mothibi.
The SIU has instituted recoveries totalling R260 million. Thirty-eight matters have been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for possible criminal prosecution.
Mothibi described the PPE corruption as “unprecedented”.
“My observation is that the flagrant and wanton disregard is underpinned by insatiable pursuit of self-enrichment. That cannot go unpunished.
’’We therefore have to ensure that the responsible officials and private sector parties identified should be harshly punished and a clear message sent out to the would-be ’maladministrators’ and the corrupt that action will be taken against them.”
He said it was disheartening to see state officials in all spheres of government, who have been called to serve the people of South Africa, implicated in unlawful and illegal activities in procurement processes that are meant to benefit the public.
Mothibi said the officials acted with corrupt intent to unduly benefit themselves and their friends and or relatives to the prejudice of the state and the public.
He warned if corruption was not tackled by all, it had the potential to weaken the state’s capacity to deliver basic services like water, electricity, roads, housing, healthcare and education.
“I appeal to public servants and those in position of power and responsibility to serve the people of South Africa with integrity and pride.”