US military hands over R6m PPE gift as ambassador decries ‘disappointing’ corruption

The US ambassador to SA, Lana Marks, addresses the media before the arrival on August 15 2020 of personal protective equipment worth R6m. Image: Alistair Russell/Sunday Times

A consignment of personal protective equipment worth R6m arrived in a US military cargo plane at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The masks, gloves, medical gowns and sanitising supplies were donated by the US military’s African Command (Africom) and are destined for front-line health-care workers in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.

Speaking at the airport, US ambassador to SA Lana Marks said the donation was testament to a strong partnership with the SA National Defence Force.

“This delivery of life-saving equipment, critically needed here in SA, shows how we can leverage the infrastructure of our strong defence co-operation to further bolster the US support to SA’s ongoing Covid-19 response,” she said.

The procurement of PPE has been mired by a string of corruption scandals with alleged links to political figures, something Marks described as “disappointing”.

Marks said US officials would hand the PPE to the health department, which would escort it to hospitals and health workers.

“The health department has operated with great transparency and full accountability with regard to our previous PPE donations  We will continue to be in constant communication with them to ensure that these supplies make it to their destination quickly and safely,” said the ambassador.

She hailed SA’s response to the pandemic and praised President Cyril Ramaphosa and health minister Zweli Mkhize.

By Jeff Wicks- TimesLIVE

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