The Special Tribunal of South Africa has granted the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) an urgent order freezing R38.7 million held in the bank accounts of 40 Gauteng-based companies.
According the Tribunal, the companies are involved in the implementation of the contract for the supply and delivery of various COVID-19 Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).
Tribunal Spokesperson Selby Makgotho says the Gauteng Health Department has also been interdicted from making any further payments to the 40 implicated companies.
The Gauteng government says it’s committed to supporting the SIU in their investigations into fraud and corruption in the province. Speaking at the weekly provincial COVID-19 update, Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko pledged to work with the SIU.
“We are committed in ensuring that investigations that have been started by the SIU are done in a manner that will actually make sure that they produce reports and the SIU will continue doing its work and we welcome the order given by the Tribunal to bring assets of certain companies and individuals that are under investigation.”
“These are the companies that, based on the submission by the Special Investigating Unit, were alleged to be involved in financial misappropriation. So in terms of the order that was granted by the Tribunal, these bank accounts have been frozen until such time that on the 6th of October, the respondents will come back to the Tribunal to show why this interim order should not be made final.”
Last Thursday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said all COVID-19 related tenders or contracts are now being investigated by the SIU. This followed allegations of corruption in the awarding of PPE tenders worth over R1 billion in the province.
The Premier said action will be taken against implicated officials when he receives the reports from the SIU.
“So this is the message I’m sending out today, not just PPE, infrastructure-related procurement; anything we have procured related to COVID-19, which would also include the programme we had around food relief. We don’t want a situation where today it’s PPE and tomorrow it’s something else. So, a comprehensive approach to dealing with corruption is to ensure that all procurements done to address COVID-19 related issues must be under full investigation.”
Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku, who is accused of alleged irregularities related to a R125 million contract, has since taken a leave of absence pending the results of an investigation into the tender.