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Suspect arrested for ‘offering R50,000 bribe’ to squash PPE investigation

A man was arrested after offering to pay for a docket on PPE corruption. Stock photo.
A man was arrested after offering to pay for a docket on PPE corruption. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Olivier Le Moal

A man who allegedly tried to bribe away a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into the irregular awarding of a personal  protective equipment (PPE) contract by the Mpumalanga department of public works has landed himself behind bars.

The suspect was due to appear in the Nelspruit magistrate’s court on Tuesday and apply for bail.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the arrest was carried out by the Hawks on Monday shortly after the man delivered a R50,000 bribe to an investigator who he hoped would be tempted to quash the investigation.

“The Hawks seized a further R63,600 which was found in the man’s possession. The ‘bribe’ follows an intensive PPE tender corruption investigation by the SIU in the Mpumalanga department of public works, roads and transport which uncovered procurement irregularities,” said Kganyago.

The SIU probe revealed the department had contracted a particular service provider in the 2017/18 financial year for pest control services.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, the same company suddenly started getting payouts meant for PPE.

“The department varied the contract to include disinfection services in the Ehlanzeni district. The disinfection services were for buildings owned and managed by the Mpumalanga provincial government in the district,” he said.

“Subsequent to the disinfection, the service provider received multiple payments amounting to R4.8m. The first payment was R1.3m in July 2020 and was followed by a number of payments amounting to R3.5m.”

When the SIU tried to trace the funds, it found the service provider started transferring large amounts of money to different entities and individuals. Among those paid were two department employees.

A large chunk of the money also went into the account of a law firm in Mpumalanga.

“The law firm bought a property to the value of R2.2m and registered it in the name of a daughter of one of the two departmental officials,” said Kganyago.

As the SIU investigator carried out his probe, he was approached by a man who offered to pay money for the docket. It was not immediately clear whether his company had delivered any of the PPE for which it had received payment.

SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi welcomed the arrest and applauded the investigator for placing integrity at the centre of their work.

“As an organisation that investigates corruption, maladministration and malpractice in the affairs of the state, we are proud of our official who stayed true to what SIU stands for, that is to put integrity at the centre of our work,” Mothibi said.

“Our official has demonstrated the SIU members do live the values that underpin our work. We warn everyone that we will execute our work without fear, favour or prejudice and that any attempt to bribe our members will be met with the full might of the law.”


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