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R54m masks purchase lands Cape education officials in hot water

The Western Cape education department irregularly spent R54m on cloth masks, according to the Special Investigating Unit. File photo.
The Western Cape education department irregularly spent R54m on cloth masks, according to the Special Investigating Unit. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Darren Stewart

Three senior Western Cape education officials are under investigation over a R54m contract to supply cloth face masks.

In its report to President Cyril Ramaphosa on government spending during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said the procurement of masks was irregular.

It said evidence suggests three senior officials in the provincial education department may be guilty of misconduct. 

On October 1 last year, it reported the three officials to the Western Cape government for possible disciplinary action. The officials are:

  • Lisa Schaffers, deputy director of supply chain management operations;
  • William Jantjies, director of institutional management and governance; and
  • Leon Ely, deputy director-general of finance.

The SIU said it “issued papers from the Special Tribunal on November 19 2021 with the view to review the contract to the value of R54,353,082 awarded to the service provider and set it aside”.

The mask contract and another for sanitiser, worth R74m, went to Masiqhame Trading 1057, a company with a sole director, Glennifer Daniels, and run from her Edgemead home.

“Masiqhame has had contracts with the Western Cape department of education since 2013 for the supply of stationery,” said the SIU report.

“In 2017, after an exhaustive assessment process, Masiqhame was awarded a three-year contract (October 1 2017 to September 30 2020) to supply and deliver cleaning materials (including hand sanitisers), gardening and electrical supplies.

“The list of products contained in the contract made provision for the supply of 207 different cleaning items.”

These included Covid-19 products and no irregularities were found with the sanitiser process.

With the cloth masks, however, the education department “failed to adequately test the market, thus failing to comply with the prescripts of section 217 of the constitution”, said the SIU.

“Furthermore, the department provided Masiqhame with multiple opportunities to alter its price, yet failed to afford other service providers the same opportunity.”

TimesLIVE


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