SIU to recover more PPE funds in coming weeks
By Siviwe Feketha 30m ago
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Johannesburg – Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head, advocate Andy Mothibi, has indicated the unit might make more financial recoveries related to the Covid-19 corruption scandal this month.
On Wednesday, Mothibi appeared before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) where he unpacked the outcomes of investigations into the R30.7 billion Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement by state institutions.
The SIU report indicated last week that R13.3 billion of the total procurement spend was under investigation, with R127 million having been recovered to date.
Mothibi indicated there was an urgent need to speed up financial recoveries through the Special Tribunal, which he said had been an important tool in the fight against corruption.
He said the SIU had, as of November 25, enrolled Covid-19 procurement matters to the value of R259 million before the Special Tribunal in a bid to recover the funds, with 15 matters enrolled to the contract value of R365 million as of February 4.
“If the Special Tribunal was not set up I am sure, given the experience in the high court, we would probably not be at the stage where we can even report any recoveries up to now.”
The SIU is looking to secure more funds as result of acknowledgement of debt and stopped payments, estimated at more than R180 million, Mothibi said.
“We must aim at converting that to the actual amount recovered, probably in the next few weeks.”
The SIU’s chief financial officer, Andre Gernandt, told the committee around R70 million had been incurred by the organisation by December in conducting the probe, with the figure expected to go up to around R120 million by March, excluding legal costs.
Mothibi, however, stressed this was not an indication that the SIU was not getting value for money.
“Our view is that the value proposition of the SIU is delivered in various outcomes. Recoveries is one of them but we should also look at the prosecutions that come out, the disciplinary hearings of recalcitrant people, regulatory and system improvements that we recommend to improve the administration of the state.”
He told MPs how SIU investigators faced push back as they tried to comb the books of various government institutions. “In the Free State area, we had one of our investigators being intimidated and threatened. We had to get the SA Police Service involved.”
Mathibi said he had to call the Western Cape provincial police commissioner when the SIU conducted a search and seizure in one of the municipalities in the province due to the push back faced by investigators.
He said the SIU had to incur massive costs in its bid to protect its investigators as they were unarmed.
“The security measures that we have to put in there are really quite costly but we are enjoined. It is incumbent on the SIU as a responsible investigating agency to do that and ensure that our investigators are protected.”
The SIU has recommended that new regulations be put in place by the government to regulate the involvement of influential figures in state procurement, which caused an outcry during the Covid-19 looting scandal.
He said this would have to be done through legislative amendments which would compel bidders to disclose their proximity to such influential persons.
“If these measures are in place, failure to make such disclosures must then be made unlawful and should constitute a statutory course of action to attack the validity of the process.”