Gauteng COVID-19 corruption crackdown

The Gauteng provincial health department has suspended its supply chain chief director following an investigation into corruption in the awarding of personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts, reports the Sunday Times.

According to the report, supply chain chief director Thandi Pino and the health department’s former CFO Kabelo Lehloenya have been named by the SIU as being behind the irregular awarding of hundreds of millions of rands worth of PPE contracts.

One of these contracts was reportedly worth R125 million and was allocated to Thandisizwe Diko – who is the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko.

Khusela Diko took leave following the scandal, the Sunday Times reports, while health MEC Bandile Masuku was placed on a month’s leave – reportedly due to fears that his wife’s friendship with the spokesperson could have had an influence over the awarding of the contract.

A presentation has been prepared for Gauteng premier David Makhura by the provincial treasury’s audit services which reportedly reveals the following:

  • R4.5 million was paid to companies that did not supply any goods
  • R5 million was paid to companies to deliver PPE even though the department had not contracts with them.
  • R12 million worth of goods were delivered before the issue of purchase orders.
  • R82 million worth of goods were ordered from companies that were not registered with the Treasury’s central supplier database.
  • R239 million worth of goods and services were ordered from companies that were not tax-compliant and whose bank accounts had not been verified.

UIF payment issues

This is far from the first issue to arise from the measures the government has taken to provide support to South Africans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In June, Business for SA uncovered a major security flaw in the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s (UIF) Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) application system.

“The UIF site opened for TERS applications for June on Wednesday (24 June) morning,” Business for SA told MyBroadband.

“We realized there was a problem soon after 13:00 when a few businesses that were attempting to lodge claims on behalf of their employees notified us they were seeing details of other firms’ applications. We then issued the warning.”

“One example seen on a screenshot from one applicant was a list of employees of another firm, including names, periods of service, ID numbers, email addresses,” said Business for SA.

These technical issues resulted in relief fund applications for June, which had initially been opened on 23 June, to remain closed until the weekend of 11/12 July.

UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping also confirmed that individuals had been able to change the banking details of companies to their own, personal accounts.

“This situation has created a need for us to do an upfront account verification and validation before the payment is made, and we expect this to increase our turnaround time by two days as the accounts are verified and validated to ensure that fraud at the company level is eliminated and reduced as far as possible,” said Maruping.

“We cannot overemphasise how important it is for companies to provide correct information that can be validated and verified with the banks so that there are no delays with the payment.”

South Africa passes 500,000 COVID-19 cases

South Africa passed 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections on 3 August and is the most heavily-affected African country.

However, there is good news – the number of active COVID-19 cases has seemingly flattened since July.

Mediahack runs a coronavirus dashboard which tracks the number of confirmed cases, deaths, and other data in South Africa.

This data shows that the daily active case numbers are beginning to trend downwards.

Despite this, President Ramaphosa warns that South Africans should not relax their attitude towards the virus and lockdown.

“We must maintain our vigilance until we have no more coronavirus cases in our country,” Ramaphosa said. “If we do not do so, there is the risk of a resurgence in those areas where the virus has now begun to stabilize.”

Now read: Good news for lockdown rules and COVID-19 in South Africa

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Gauteng COVID-19 corruption crackdown