Raise alarm on corruption to save SA
It is highly likely that had the invoices not surfaced on social media, there would be no investigation into how the OR Tambo municipality in the Eastern Cape was billed a ridiculous R4.8m for a door-to-door Covid-19 screening campaign.
On Friday leaked documents surfaced showing Phathilizwi Training Institution invoiced the district municipality about R3m on May 21 and days later, a further R1.8m. The company had been contracted to conduct a community outreach campaign, teaching people about Covid-19.
The bill was charged for each person they had supposedly spoken to, a number they claimed to be 6,400 people.
Only, according to the Sunday Times, some of those listed as having been reached, said this never happened.
There are several questions to be answered here, including how their names got onto the list and whether this awareness campaign was actually ever done.
Most important is what compelled that cash-strapped municipality to contract a company to carry out such a campaign, especially during the lockdown.
Equally curious is how Phathilizwi arrived at such exorbitant charges for work supposedly done over four days? Against what benchmark was its pricing?
The answers to all these perhaps lie in the reality that Covid-19 is both a health pandemic and an opportunity for those constantly seeking to loot the state.
This behaviour is not new in Eastern Cape, where the Mandela funeral scandal stands among the ugliest examples. The global period of mourning for Madiba, which turned into a looting frenzy by shameless officials and politicians, taught us as much.
It is also not a phenomenon unique to that province but has become normalised practice for municipalities and government departments across the land.
Throughout the country we are likely to be confronted with the reality of large scale corruption involving funds meant to assist poor communities during this period. This is why whistleblowing - and an efficient criminal justice system - is so crucial to our fight against corruption.
Malfeasance thrives when its witnesses look the other way.