Deputy public protector investigates Covid-19 PPE tender irregularities in KZN

Deputy public protector Kholeka Gcaleka during her visit to Chris Hani Barangwanath Hospital in Soweto.
Deputy public protector Kholeka Gcaleka during her visit to Chris Hani Barangwanath Hospital in Soweto.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi / Sunday Times

Deputy public protector Kholeka Gcaleka is in KwaZulu-Natal visiting a number of health-care facilities and public schools as part of investigations into Covid-19 PPE tender irregularities.

Since early August, public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Gcaleka have been on a tour to observe first-hand the challenges that staff, the public and pupils alike grapple with regarding the provision of services.

The focus is on the inspection of hospitals reserved, upgraded or capacitated specifically for the treatment of Covid-19 patients and schools.

To date, they have visited hospitals in Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Through the inspection, Gcaleka, who will be accompanied by investigators from the KwaZulu-Natal office, will seek to examine infrastructure that has been developed specifically for the fight against the pandemic, look closely at the capacity of the facilities, establish if the facilities are coping with demand for services and whether front-line workers have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE).

KZN is one of the  provinces hardest hit by Covid-19.

The public protector's office said since the outbreak Covid-19 the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus have been marred by allegations of tender irregularities in respect of the procurement of PPE.

“The public protector is investigating some of the allegations. A report detailing the observations made during the inspections will be made available in due course. It will be shared with relevant authorities with a view to remedying the shortcomings,” the statement read.

In July KZN premier Sihle Zikalala said investigations into the awarding of two tenders to supply blankets for the homeless and PPE had uncovered irregularities by the provincial  government of nearly R30m.