Residents of Limpopo hopeful after official arrests for corruption of personal protective equipment

The arrest of a senior official of the provincial government of Mpumalanga by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) for corruption in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) has given hope to the residents of Limpopo who want to see similar action in their province.

On Friday, the Hawks attacked the acting head of education in Mpumalanga, Jabulani Rolland Nkosi. Nkosi was arrested for violating several sections of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) in the tendering of PPE tenders amounting to R21.9 million.

Nkosi was seconded from the Ministry of Health of Mpumalanga to the post of Accounting Officer and has since returned to his post as Chief Director of the Ministry of Health.

Nkosi’s arrest comes after the purchase of personal protective equipment, such as waste bags, face shields, hand sanitizers, industrial disinfectants, infrared thermometers and safety glasses, resulted in unauthorized, irregular, useless and wasteful expenditure for the department.

Kaiser Kganyago, spokesman for the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), said Nkosi appeared before the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on Friday and was given a bail of 10,000 rupees. The case was referred back to April 20, 2022 for further investigation, according to Kganyago.

Kganyago said the SIU planned to approach the Special Tribunal to request a review and put the PPE tender aside, and hopefully recover the financial losses suffered by the state and the education department at the time the tenders were awarded.

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a proclamation in July 2020 authorizing the SIU to investigate widespread allegations of corruption in the procurement of Covid-19 PPE tenders. This came after reports that some government officials had funneled millions of rands in public funds intended to curb the spread of Covid to politically affiliated companies, some of which had been registered around the time the country was hit by the pandemic.

The final report of the investigations, which took place from July 2020 to January 2022, was handed over to the president this year. Ramaphosa said if the SIU found evidence that a criminal offense had been committed, it was required to give the evidence to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa receives final SIU report on alleged PPE corruption

According to reports, the SIU has since examined a total of 5,467 contracts awarded to 3,067 service providers worth a total of R14.3 billion. It said investigations have been completed regarding 4,549 contracts, of which 2,803 were found to be irregular. This amounts to 62% of the completed investigations. The final report has been referred by the SIU to the NPA, departments, public sector entities and other parties, who will finalize the process to book violators.

Phillip Machubeni, of Morutji Village in Bolobedu outside Tzaneen, is calling on Limpopo Prime Minister Stan Mathabatha to release the SIU report on Covid-19 PPE procurement corruption. Photo: Alex Japho Matlala

But it seems some Limpopo residents can’t wait to get their hands on the report. The disgruntled residents, who have waited for the report to be made public, said: The The throwdowntv on Tuesday that their patience was running out. They claim the report got dust in Prime Minister Stan Mathabatha’s office when he should have made it public.

“We want to know who is involved, how much was spent illegally, whose companies are involved, how the owners of these companies relate to the officials or politicians and what measures you are going to take against those involved.

“We are delighted that an arrest has been made in Mpumalanga and we hope the same can happen in Limpopo,” said Phillip Machubeni, a resident of Morutji village in Bolobedu. In its report, the SIU found that 33 tenders worth more than €125 million were irregularly awarded by the Ministry of Health and other entities in the province.

Ndavhe Ramakuela, contacted for comment, spokesman for the provincial government of Limpopo, had only this to say: “The process to complete the implementation of the recommendations of the SIU report is underway, pending a conclusion on aspects that require treatment in terms of the Labor Relations Act, especially those that affect senior managers within government.”

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