President Cyril Ramaphosa is admonishing those who were found to have fraudulently received tenders at the beginning of the National State of Disaster. This follows a report detailing the true extent of their corruption.

A report released last week by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into PPE procurement by State institutions during the coronavirus state of disaster has implicated 25 officials in PPE tender irregularities worth millions of Rands.

Of the R30.7-billion spent by government institutions on procurement, 2556 PPE contracts worth R13.3-billion were under investigation at the end of November 2020

The SIU has made 38 referrals to the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) on the basis of fraud, corruption and contravening supply chain management policies.

Head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), Advocate Andy Mothibi, explained that political pressure played a part in which companies were awarded tenders.

“The report also found that de-registered companies were awarded tenders worth millions of rand, while in other instances, specifications were ignored and sub-standard quality products delivered. Furthermore, companies that did not qualify for BBBEE points were awarded tenders,” Mothibi said during a media briefing on Friday, February 5.

Some companies were awarded contracts yet were not registered on the Central Supplier Database. Some were only registered days before the National State of Disaster was announced.

The report also found that suppliers used different front companies to obtain multiple contracts from the same department. Personal protective equipment and other supplies were procured at inflated prices, in some cases at mark-ups exceeding 400%. Some products did not meet the necessary specifications.

In his weekly letter to the public, President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his sadness at these findings and pledged that those doing wrong will be held accountable.

“As a country that has become far too used to hearing stories about corruption, little could have prepared us for seeing, in detail, the lengths to which some among our people have gone to steal at a time when our nation is facing the worst health emergency in modern times,” he wrote.

“What is most disturbing is that this was not simply a matter of negligence or poor oversight. There was willful intent to defraud. As scores of people became ill and many were dying, some people saw an opportunity to cash in. They purposefully set out to steal millions in public money, misuse state property and divert resources meant for the South African people into personal pockets.”

He adds that all those involved in wrongdoing will be dealt with “harshly and appropriately”. A number of civil litigation cases have been instituted for the return of ill-gotten money. Specific cases have been referred to for prosecution.

Contracts found to be unlawful have been cancelled. Government entities have been directed not to make payments to the service providers pending the outcome of investigations and or civil proceedings. There have been referrals for disciplinary action against implicated officials and a number of these have commenced.

Ramaphosa concluded: “I would like to assure South Africans that the net is closing on those involved in corrupt acts. This includes not just private companies, but also those in the public service who thought they could collude with outside individuals to sell off resources meant for our people.”

Read the full SIU report here: R23_of_2020_Final_report_on_matters_finalised_for_public_release_05022021

Picture: Twitter / The Presidency

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