Former Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku’s denial of knowledge of corrupt, unlawful and irregular procurement of PPE is self-serving, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) argued in court papers.
“Having regard to his constitutional and statutory duties, I respectfully submit that the applicant’s denial of knowledge of corrupt, unlawful and improper procurement by, and in the provincial department, is simply unfounded and impermissibly self-serving,” SIU forensic investigator Asashanduki Rabali said in an affidavit.
The North Gauteng High Court, in a virtual sitting on Thursday, heard Masuku’s challenge to the SIU findings, which led to his axing, before a full bench – consisting of Judge Roland Sutherland, Judge Thina Siwendu and Judge Joseph Raulinga.
A preliminary SIU report placed Masuku at the centre of processes in the Gauteng health department, which saw the husband of presidency spokesperson, Khusela Diko, receiving a R125 million tender to supply PPE.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura removed Masuku, based on the SIU preliminary report, which found that “he failed to execute his function in compliance with Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA)”.
Masuku’s legal team earlier submitted to the court that the findings were not “supported by a shred of evidence”.
Rabali said the MEC was responsible for exercising executive authority and the oversight affairs of the provincial department, including its emergency procurement of PPE.
The forensic investigator added it was clear – from the version of the CFO – that reports of public procurement of PPE were furnished to the applicant [Masuku] on an ongoing and regular basis .
In addition, Rabali said the reports were furnished to the provincial command council after it took the decision to centralise the procurement of PPE within the provincial department.
“The duties of the applicant in that regard were heightened by the fact that he knew the procurement of PPE was on an emergency basis, which is notoriously abused and is a hot-bed of corrupt and unlawful procurement, and that his department was weakened in its supply chain and asset management capacity to manage a huge scale procurement of the kind,” Rabali further alleged.
The forensic investigator submitted that the review sought was merely an attempt by the applicant to procure a reinstatement to the office of MEC, without “accepting responsibility and accountability for acts of corrupt, unlawful and improper procurement which took place under his watch in the order of R2 billion in just six months”.
“The applicant opportunistically seeks to challenge the findings of the SIU. He has made strident allegations against the investigators and the SIU, which are not justified,” advocate Vincent Maleka SC, on behalf of the SIU, concluded.