R7.8bn corruption exposed in SIU Covid-19 corruption report

More than R7.8-billion of Covid-19 procurement corruption has been flagged by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in its final consolidated report to President Cyril Ramaphosa

The report showed that the SIU has retrieved more than R34.2-million in assets and cash; that the unit is chasing a R551.5-million in potential cash and assets; prevented losses amounting to more than R114.2-million; and set aside irregular contracts worth more than R170.4-million. 

On Tuesday, the presidency released the SIU’s final report, which excludes ongoing matters under investigation. This shows that, out of the more than R14.4-billion of contracts the unit investigated, procurement irregularities found amounted to more than R7.8-billion from 2 803 contracts awarded to 1 217 services providers. 

The SIU is still investigating 476 service providers linked to 964 contracts valued at more than R961.6-million, the outcomes of which, the presidency said, would be provided in a supplementary report to be submitted to Ramaphosa at the end of June. 

Currently before the special tribunal, which has a mandate to “recover funds syphoned from the fiscus through corruption, fraud and illicit money flows”, are SIU cases to try to retrieve monies amounting to more than R2.1-billion irregularly spent on Covid-19 procurement. 

Ramaphosa signed a proclamation in July 2020, about four months after the outbreak of the deadly virus in the country, to investigate a raft of corruption allegations related to the country’s response to the pandemic. 

The SIU’s report shows that, from April 2020 to September 2021, the state spent more than R152.5-billion in Covid-19 procurement, and the unit investigated graft valued at R14.4-billion, or 9.4% of the total spend. 

Ramaphosa said in a statement on Tuesday that the submission of the report was an important step in the fight against corruption in the public and private sector, as well as against maladministration. 

“This investigation targeted individuals and institutions who believed they could exploit a moment of national vulnerability to enrich themselves and those with whom they colluded to abuse public resources,” the president said. “It is unacceptable that so many contracts associated with saving lives and protecting livelihoods were irregular, unlawful or fraudulent. 

“This investigation demonstrates our determination to root out corruption and to deal with perpetrators. The final report details matters referred by the SIU to the National Prosecuting Authority, departments and entities in the public sector and other parties, who will finalise the process of bringing wrongdoers to book and addressing weaknesses identified by the SIU investigation.”

Gauteng graft

In Gauteng, the SIU investigated 211 matters, of which 207 have been finalised and four are still ongoing. 

The SIU looked into 100 contracts with a total value of R1 531 892 902. It found that all the goods and services were rendered and in instances where no goods and services were procured no payments were made. The SIU closed the investigations because no evidence was found to support the allegation that the supply chain management process may have been irregular.

But the SIU did uncover fraud in other contracts. The Mlangeni Brothers Events CC was awarded a R24-million contract for 100 000 boxes of powdered and non-powdered gloves.

The SIU found that Kabelo Lehloenya and Thandiwe Pino did not follow the proper procurement processes in awarding a contract to Mlangeni, which overstated its prices by overcharging by more than R12-million.

Criminal charges have been laid against Mlangeni and the former head of department, Mkhululi Lukhele. Pino was dismissed after a disciplinary process. Lehloenya and Lukhele could not undergo disciplinary processes because they resigned.

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Khaya Koko
Khaya Koko is a journalist with a penchant for reading through legal documents braving the ravages of cold court benches to expose the crooked. He writes about social justice and human-interest stories. Most importantly, he is a card-carrying member of the Mighty Orlando Pirates.

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