Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) has vowed to prioritise a series of reports by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement investigations.
This is to ensure that those who are implicated are prosecuted speedily.
The latest report, in which the unit referred 38 cases to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) involving fraud, corruption and contravening supply chain management policies, was formally tabled before parliament on Wednesday.
“A number of issues emanating from the report require Scopa’s urgent attention and the committee has resolved to prioritise these matters. Scopa is aware that these are ongoing reports, which the SIU will release periodically as their investigation procedure dictates,” said committee spokesperson Faith Ndenze.
“This means that the committee will be engaged in a process of following up with the relevant structures to ensure there are speedy prosecutions and other consequence management processes for those who are implicated.”
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 resigned from their positions while investigations were under way.
The rand value of actual cash and/or assets recovered by February 4 was R127m, according to SIU head Andy Mothibi.
Commenting on the report earlier, President Cyril Ramaphosa said those implicated in it were hell-bent on defrauding the state.
“What is most disturbing is that this was not simply a matter of negligence or poor oversight. There was wilful intent to defraud. As scores of people became ill and many were dying, some people saw an opportunity to cash in.
“They purposefully set out to steal millions in public money, misuse state property and divert resources meant for the South African people into personal pockets,” he said.
Some of the implicated individuals and entities who benefited had no experience in the manufacture, supply or distribution of critical medical supplies. Some companies were registered on national databases and received purchase orders. Others were not, but still profited.
This as some entities used “front companies” to obtain multiple contracts from the same department as PPEs and other supplies were procured at inflated prices, in some cases at markups exceeding 400%.
Scopa said it would devise an operating model which will ensure that the committee prioritised the matter parallel to its other business.
By Nonkulileko Njilo- TimesLIVE