Judgment was reserved on Wednesday in the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU’s) review application into the irregular awarding of contracts to decontaminate schools in Gauteng.
The Gauteng education department spent R431 million on the tender to sanitise schools between June 2020 and August 2020 – a few months after Covid-19 was first detected in South Africa.
The SIU is seeking to recover the millions irregularly spent to decontaminate the schools.
The department’s counsel, however, argued that it had a right to deviate from the procurement processes because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lesufi says he will act decisively
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi in July said he would not step aside after the uproar that was caused by the awarding of the tenders. He did, however, vow to act decisively once the SIU investigation is completed.
“I am one person that adheres to the law. The law is quite clear on my mandate and the issues that need it. I’ve never been directly involved in that transaction, nor my friends or people I am connected with politically or otherwise so it will really be irrational,” he told eNCA.
It was alleged Lesufi had interfered in the awarding of the tender after City Press reported that he had been heard in a recording saying that “our people should be satisfied and looked after”, and when tenders are advertised, there should be communication about it among those people.
There have also been calls for Lesufi to suspend executives in the department that are involved in the scandal – including head of department Edward Mosuwe, chief financial officer (CFO) Johan van Coller and supply chain management chief director Samora Mhlophe.
Company accounts frozen
In June, the SIU announced it had been granted a preservation order to freeze seven more accounts of service providers contracted by the department to decontaminate the schools.
It was the second preservation order that had been granted to the unit. Some weeks before, 14 accounts of service providers were frozen. In total the preservation orders added up to R63.1 million.
The Special Tribunal order prohibits Chachulani Group Investment Holdings, Muta Investment Holdings, Netvision Energy Savers, Psychin Consulting, Home Ground Trading 1105, Mpale Investments Holdings and Naledzi Investment Trust from touching the funds in the bank accounts.
Additional reporting by Siyanda Ndlovu