Government’s crazy COVID-19 spending – Up to R14,750 per digital thermometer

The COVID-19 pandemic has required national and provincial government departments to spend money on personal protective equipment, thermometers, and other equipment.

At the directive of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the government has released the details of the COVID-19 contracts its national and provincial departments have entered into.

The departments were told to submit full information on COVID-19 tenders to the ministerial team convened by Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.

“This measure is unprecedented, and a clear demonstration of government’s commitment to transparency and accountability when it comes to allegations of corruption in the COVID-19 procurement process,” President Ramaphosa said in a recent statement.

““By publishing these lists we have honoured our promise to the South African people. They enable proper scrutiny of the details of all companies who have received tenders for COVID-19 related services.”

“The collaboration and cooperation between government departments during this process has been laudable, and a clear indication that we are going to intensify our efforts to act against any individuals or companies involved in corruption and profiteering around this pandemic.”

This data includes payments made relating to the procurement of digital thermometers, which are used to check that people don’t have high temperatures.

Altogether, the national government spent R14.3 million on digital thermometers to combat the COVID-19 crisis.

Limpopo spent the most on digital thermometers out of all the provincial governments, racking up a bill of R76.9 million.

Digital thermometer prices

As the South African government has a history of questionable tenders, MyBroadband has investigated the prices paid by various departments for these thermometers.

To start, we have collated the prices of the most popular thermometers on Takealot and Makro’s websites:

Takealot

  • Thermometer Infrared Forehead Non-Contact – R249
  • Digital Infrared Forehead Thermometer – R490
  • Digital Forehead Thermometer Infrared Thermometer – R699
  • Thermometer Infrared – R549
  • Infra-Red Medical Grade Thermometer Non-Contact AI Care – R730

Makro

  • T5 Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer – R399
  • Puridene YHKY Infrared Thermometer – R649
  • Simzo F7 Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer – R499

It is also worth noting that since government departments often purchase these thermometers in bulk, they should enjoy favourable rates – even on more expensive devices.

Findings

MyBroadband’s investigation into the government’s procurement prices finds that the prices paid are substantially higher than those available at Takealot and Makro.

The investigation looks at both national and provincial spending and found that most thermometers were purchased for between R1,500 and R3,000 per unit.

However, there were cases where departments paid in excess of R5,000 for a thermometer – such as with the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), which recorded a transaction disclosing 13 thermometers purchased for R74,750.

The Department of Tourism is also documented as purchasing two thermometers for R29,500 – which translates to R14,750 per thermometer.

It is unclear whether this is a typing error and should instead read 20 thermometers (translating to R1,475 per thermometer) or if this is a genuine overpayment.

There were also notable presentation issues in the reports provided by some provinces:

  • The Free State records show just two thermometer procurement entries across its 12 departments, indicating an issue with the reports.
  • The Eastern Cape’s records do not clarify what products each supplier sold, as well as the prices they charged.
  • At the time of writing, no documents were available regarding the COVID-19-related contracts in the Northern Cape.
  • While the Western Cape provides figures for how much was spent by each department to procure thermometers, it did not disclose how many thermometers were purchased or the price per unit that these departments paid.

Dut to the above issues, the Free State, Eastern Cape, and Northern Cape are excluded from the investigation.

It is also worth noting that in some cases, individual order entries within these documents detail thermometers being purchased alongside other products such as masks and sanitisers.

These entries were omitted as an accurate spending figure could not be obtained from this information.

The prices paid by the various government departments for thermometers are below.


National

National thermometer costs
Department Price per thermometer Quantity Overall cost
Public Service Commission (PSC) R55,660
R55,660
The Presidency R1,750 7 R12,250
R1,990 5 R9,950
R1,195 2 R2,390
R2,000 2 R4,000
R1,750 1 R1,750
R30,340
Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) R7,544
R3,900
R11,444
Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities R2,300 5 R11,500
R775 2 R1,550
R13,050
Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) R5,750 13 R74,750
R1,899 5 R9,495
R84,245
Statistics South Africa R431,250
R23,000
R454,250
Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) R1,949.25 4 R7,797
R7,797
Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) R150,030
R9,893
R11,377
R7,500
R9,600
R5,185
R193,585
Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) R34,000
R666.67 6 R4,000
R699.90 1 R699.90
R6,037.50
R6,300
R3,600
R26,971.53
R1,040.78 2 R2,081.55
R1,092.50 6 R6,555
R74,970
R8,050
R52,324
R225,589.48
Department of Correction Services (DCS) R2,869.25 20 R57,385
R2,875 355 R1,020,625
R2,127.50 1,000 R2,127,500
R2,300 20 R46,000
R1,348.99 20 R26,979.80
R2,900 2 R5,800
R1,982.62 11 R21,792.82
R2,875 10 R28,750
R2,300 30 R69,000
R1,500 16 R24,000
R3,220 9 R28,980
R1,502 18 R27,036
R6,064.41
R13,800
R29,250
R29,250
R29,250
R840
R5,152
R10,500
R5,520
R1,888.50 10 R18,885
R1,888.50 8 R15,108
R1,888.50 20 R37,770
R2,300 50 R115,000
R2,300 1 R2,300
R1,610 14 R22,540
R1,888.50 26 R49,101
R1,516.10 15 R22,741.50
R1,200 25 R34,500
R3,931,420.53
Department of Home Affairs (DHA) R1,815 25 R45,375
R1,800 460 R828,000
R1,380 460 R634,800
R1,499 80 R119,920
R1,628,095
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ and CD) R866.33 12 R10,396
R1,850 1 R1,850
R900 4 R3,600
R15,846
National Prosecution Authority (NPA) R1,688.05 9 R15,192.45
R76,500
R63,000
R1,400 6 R8,400
R163,092.45
Legal Aid R1,499.99 152 R229,027.88
R229,027.88
Special Investigating Unit (SIU) R1,800 14 R25,200
R25,200
South African Police Service (SAPS) R1,750 25 R43,750
R2,012.5 56 R112,700
R156,450
State Security Agency (SSA) R1,348.99 20 R26,979.80
R1,667.50 60 R100,050
R127,029.80
Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) R2,300 2 R4,600
R1,800 2 R3,600
R8,200
Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) R4,599.89
R4,599.89
National Treasury R12,128.82
R1,897
R2,875 4 R11,500
R2,685.25 4 R10,741
R84,027.65
R3,777
R850 1 R850
R900,000
R1,837.48 25 R45,937
R14,100
R1,084,958.47
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) R1,913 260 R571,987
R1,380 100 R138,000
R2,800 20 R56,000
R1,092.50 1 R1,092.50
R1,412.90 1 R1,412.90
R16,675
R43,125
R7,000
R1,600 2 R3,200
R10,165
R4,400
R2,400
R1,725 2 R3,450
R32,100
R891,007.40
Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) R2,300 18 R41,400
14,160
R89,125
R1,700 1,320 R2,244,000
R1,700 650 R1,105,000
R3,493,685
Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) R2,300 57 R131,100
R2,300 200 R460,000
R591,100
Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) R2,300 30 R69,000
R69,000
Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) R46,400
R4,788
R2,933
R2,415
R13,053
R2,367
R6,900
R1,877.50 2 R2,755
R1,151 1 R1,151
R2,875
R1,616.50 2 R3,233
R9,660
R5,200
R103,730
Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) R2,000 1 R2,000
R1,950.75 1 R1,950.75
R1,110 1 R1,110
R500 1 R500
R480 1 R480
R6,040.75
Department of Tourism (DoT) R1,750 5 R8,750
R14,750 2 R29,500
R1,480 1 R1,480
R1,950 1 R1,950
R1,299.90 1 R1,299.90
R42,979.90
Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) R34,000
R666.67 6 R4,000
R699 1 R699
R6,037.50
R699.90 1 R699.90
R6,037.50
R6,300
R3,600
R26,971.53
R1,040.78 2 R2,081.55
R1,092.50 6 R6,555
R74,970
R8,050
R52,324
R232,325.98
Department of Health (DoH) R1,010.79 350 R353,527.82
R879.34 91 R80,020.05
R433,547.87
Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) R1,380 14 R19,320
R19,320
Total R14,332,617.40

Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga thermometer costs
Department Price per thermometer Quantity Overall cost
Office of the Premier R1,100 10 R11,000
R849 1 R849
R11,849
Provincial Treasury R2,527.20 30 R75,816
R75,816
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs R2,527.20 110 R277,992
R277,992
Agriculture and Rural Development R1,200 57 R68,400
R68,400
Economic Development and Tourism R972.63 19 R18,480
R18,480
Education R1,888,87 5,400 R10,199,898
R10,199,898
Public Works, Roads and Transport R1,550 36 R55,800
R1,600 76 R121,600
R177,400
Community Safety, Security and Liaison R2,300 80 R184,000
R184,000
Health R4,000 10 R40,000
R265,362.50
R2,280 1,000 R2,280,000
R2,280 3000 R6,840,000
R1,874.89 3,000 R5,624,670
R2,350 3,000 R7,050,000
R22,100,032.50
Culture, Sport and Recreation R2,484 152 R377,568
R2,527.20 98 R247,665.60
R625,233.60
Social Development R2,527.20 60 R151,632
R2,527.20 20 R50,544
R527 17 R29,852.85
R718.75 1 R718.75
R232,747.60
Human Settlements R2,259 14 R31,626
R31,626
Economic Regulator R1,380 3 R4,140
R999 1 R999
R5,139
Regional Training Trust R2,990 25 R74,750
R74,750
Tourism and Parks Agency R2,298.83 42 R96,551
R96,551
Economic Growth Agency R2,500 12 R30,000
R30,000
Total R34,209,914.7

North West

North West thermometer costs
Department Price per thermometer Quantity Overall cost
Office of the Premier R1,570 15 R23,550
R23,550
Health R1,500 2,000 R3,000,000
R1,790 1,000 R1,790,000
R50 6,000 R300,000
R4.05 50,000 R202,400
R5,292,400
Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation R1,816.40 50 R90,820
R90,820
Provincial Treasury R2,475 10 R24,750
R24,750
Education R1,650 200 R330,000
R1,700 93 R158,100
R2,300 200 R460,000
R2,300 200 R460,000
R1,825 200 R365,000
R999.98 63 R62,999
R2,100 170 R357,000
R1,950 200 R390,000
R1,400 70 R98,000
R2,100 200 R420,000
R1,700 109 R185,300
R1,932 200 R386,400
R2,150 200 R430,000
R1,720 200 R344,000
R2,000 200 R400,000
R1,600 200 R320,000
R2,080 50 R104,000
R2,080 200 R416,000
R1,950 200 R390,000
R1,900 200 R380,000
R1,750 200 R350,000
R2,100 200 R420,000
R960 50 R48,000
R1,850 200 R370,000
R1,850 200 R370,000
R8,014,799
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs R1,031.55 20 R20,631
R20,631
Agriculture and Rural Development R1,399 14 R19,586
R19,586
Total R13,486,536

Gauteng

Gauteng thermometer costs
Department Price per thermometer Quantity Overall cost
Provincial Treasury R2,070 5 R10,350
R10,350
Agriculture and Rural Development R2,450 35 R85,750
R85,750
Roads and Transport R1,110.85 45 R49,988.25
R49,988.25
Social Development R2,300 2 R4,600
R3,500 106 R371,000
R1,748 50 R52,440
R1,945 5 R9,725
R3,750 30 R112,500
R52,440
R34,500
R637,205
Economic Development R1,550 7 R10,850
R1,939 20 R38,780
R770 20 R15,400
R895 2 R1,790
R6,734.50
R73,554.50
Institute for Architecture R2,070 4 R8,280
R8,280
R1,637,127.75

Western Cape

Western Cape thermometer costs
Department Price per thermometer Quantity Overall cost
Office of the Premier R216,000
R216,000
Provincial Treasury R13,000
R13,000
Community Safety R80,097.50
R3,432.75
R9,746.25
R93,276.50
Education R4,968
R13,915
R18,883
Health R4,000
R223,905
R1,239,140
R1,000,240
R90,850
R454,250
R454,250
R148,469.60
R94,450
R381,800
R90,000
R300,000
R4,481,354.60
Social Development R73,657.50
R2,480
R76,137.50
Environmental Affairs R8,910
R8,910
Transport and Public Works R230,000
R230,000
Agriculture R18,000
R42,750
R7,980
R43,700
R112,430
Economic Development R3,675.40
R3,675.40
Cultural Affairs and Sport R150,660
R150,660
Local Government R12,800
R12,800
R5,417,127

KZN

KZN thermometer costs
Department Price per thermometer Quantity Overall cost
Agriculture and Rural Development R1,000 10 R10,000
R10,000
Arts and Culture R1,610 260 R418,600
R2,000 30 R60,000
R478,600
Community Safety and Liaison R1,870 16 R29,920
R29,920
Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs R1,600 102 R163,200
R163,200
Education R2,300 200 R460,000
R2,400 1,000 R2,400,000
R2,300 1,000 R2,300,000
R2,043.47 3,000 R6,130,410
R2,000 2,200 R4,400,000
R2,400 2,000 R4,800,000
R1,700 1,000 R1,700,000
R2,300 1,500 R3,450,000
R2,049 1,000 R2,049,000
R2,527.70 1,000 R2,527,700
R2,250 2,000 R4,500,000
R2,300 1,000 R2,300,000
R1,600 1,000 R1,600,000
R2,400 2,000 R4,800,000
R43,417,110
Health R941 700 R658,700
R2,196.50 6,000 R13,179,000
R13,837,700
Office of the Premier R2,300 15 R34,500
R34,500
Provincial Treasury R2,527,.2 8 R20,216.96
R20,216.96
Social Development R1,437.50 55 R79,062.50
R1,437.50 55 R79,062.50
R1,499 289 R433,211
R591,336
Sport and Recreation R2,645 12 R31,740
R31,740
Transport R890 120 R106,800
R585 150 R87,750
R194,550
Total R58,808,872.96

Limpopo

Limpopo thermometer costs
Department Price per thermometer Quantity Overall cost
Health R2,249.40 500 R1,124,700
R1,978 3,000 R5,934,000
R1,978 500 R989,000
R1,720 500 R860,000
R1,978 500 R989,000
R1,720 500 R860,000
R1,951.20 1,110 R2,165,832
R1,720 3,000 R5,160,000
R1,720 500 R860,000
R1,956 5,000 R9,780,000
R1,720 500 R860,000
R1,720 3,500 R6,020,000
R1,951.20 4,000 R7,804,800
R1,720 3,000 R5,160,000
R1,720 5,000 R8,600,000
R1,720 3,000 R5,160,000
R1,720 3,500 R6,020,000
R1,978 500 R989,000
R2,249.40 425 R955,995
R70,292,327
Sport R1,795 105 R188,475
R188,475
Roads R2,800 4 R11,200
R11,200
Office of the Premier R1,592.09 8 R12,736.72
R12,736.72
Education R977.50 1,000 R977,500
R800 6,550 R5,240,000
R6,217,500
Economic Development R1,521.74 32 R48,695.68
R2,174 11 R23,914.00
R72,609.68
Treasury R1,698.86 11 R18,687.46
R18,687.46
Land Transport Authority R1,500 4 R6,000
R6,000
Cooperative governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs R2,779 20 R55,580
R55,580
Total R76,875,115.86

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Government’s crazy COVID-19 spending – Up to R14,750 per digital thermometer