SIU recovers R127m from dodgy PPE procurement tenders

05 February 2021 - 13:54
By Ernest Mabuza
Special Investigating Unit Head advocate Andy Mothibi. File picture.
Image: Freddy Mavunda Special Investigating Unit Head advocate Andy Mothibi. File picture.

The Special Investigating Unit has made 38 referrals to the National Prosecution Authority for prosecution for fraud, corruption and contravening supply chain management policies.

SIU head Andy Mothibi disclosed this on Friday, as he announced the finalised investigations and outcomes into allegations of corruption concerning Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement by state institutions.

As at November 25 last year, the SIU had instituted civil matters at the Special Tribunal to the value of R259m for review, which includes the recovery of state funds in relation to corrupt activities associated with the state of disaster.

The proceedings before the Special Tribunal also include the freezing of the pensions of officials who have resigned from their positions while investigations were proceeding. 

The rand value of actual cash and/or assets recovered as at February 4 was R127m, said Mothibi.

Matters referred to the Special Tribunal included one in the Eastern Cape, where the SIU launched civil proceedings concerning the procurement of motorcycles with sidecars to the value of R10m. Mothibi said the department was interdicted from making any payment to the supplier and accepting any goods from the supplier.

Mothibi said another matter was finalised on Thursday where the Special Tribunal ruled that 21 companies that benefited from the tender awarded to Ledla Structural Development must forfeit the cash they received to the state.

The ruling on Thursday follows an earlier judgment In December last year, where the Tribunal set aside a tender for the supply of PPEs awarded to Ledla  — a company linked to presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband Thandisizwe Diko.

“I have instructed our legal team to execute with speed the order that was given by the Special Tribunal. We need to convert that order to the recovery of money and pay that money back to the state,” Mothibi said.

He said as of February 4, the SIU recorded 15 matters at the Special Tribunal to the contract value of R365m.

The Treasury indicated that R30.7bn was spent by state institutions between March and November last year and of that, R13.3bn of that expenditure was under investigation by the SIU.

Mothibi said the SIU had finalised investigations into 164 contracts (26% of contracts under investigation) to the value of R3.5bn.

He said 1,541 of contracts with the value of R6.8bn are being investigated and said 851 contracts were still to be investigated.

Mothibi also said the SIU had identified R260.6m that could be recovered by other means, other than through referral to the tribunal.

He said this is the rand value on cash or assets that are potentially recoverable in instances where service providers acknowledge their debt or liability.

“In that instance the SIU and the state institution concerned will look at this and ensure this is quantified correctly. If the state institution is satisfied, then we will enter into an acknowledgment of debt.” 

Mothibi said during its investigations, it appeared that people in positions of authority within some state institutions believed that the declaration of a national state of disaster meant that all procurement was automatically now conducted on an emergency basis, and without compliance with any of the normal prescripts regulating public sector procurement.

He said evidence indicated that officials merely rubber-stamped or accepted and gave effect to “unlawful” instructions from officials more senior than them.

He said this resulted in a complete breakdown of the checks and balances normally afforded by the principle of segregation of duties.

The SIU began its investigations after a proclamation by President Cyril Ramaphosa in July last year to investigate any improper conduct in the procurement of goods or services by state institutions in respect of the national state of disaster.

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