Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
16 Aug 2020
1:07 pm

Covid-19 fraud accusations an attempt to ‘divert’ the SIU

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

The SIU says it will not be derailed from investigating Covid-19 related corruption, despite having accusations of such graft being made at those within their own ranks.

Advocate Andy Mothibi, the head of the Special Investigations Unit. Picture: YouTube.

Special Investigating Unit (SIU) boss Andy Mothibi denies any wrongdoing following allegations of another personal protective equipment (PPE) scandal, this time pinned against his own office.

According to the Sunday Times, the SIU, which was recently empowered to investigate all Covid-19 procurement irregularities, was itself accused of flouting regulations by irregularly appointing a company to make face masks for its staff.

In an explosive letter to justice minister Ronald Lamola, the unit’s head of strategy, Ziphozenkosi Mguli, accused its CFO, Andre Gernandt, of influencing the appointment of a specific company for the contract without following the stipulations of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

But according to Mothibi’s spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago, Mguli had already had a discussion with Mothibi on these accusations and he had advised that a formal grievance be filed in order for her accusations to be investigated. He dismissed the accusations made in Mguli’s letter as stemming from external attempts to divert the new directive of the organisation, to investigate all Covid-19 related contracts with government.

“They are trying to divert us. All I can say in answering you is that we are not going to allow things like this to divert us. We will be resolute in carrying out the work before us. This issue is very serious, it is an allegation that is out there which has not been tested at all and we have been calling for this person, because it is not the only allegation, to put a formal dispute or a grievance so that these things can be tested because we believe in governance,” said Kganyago.

According to the Sunday Times, Mguli’s letter also made several allegations that Mothibi made irregular appointments of executives, that he was guilty of maladministration, abuse of power and the irregular awarding of contracts.

He alleged that his mismanagement led poorly conceived investigations and that he conspired to retrench an executive.

Asked why the unit expected the matter to be dealt with internally when it clearly included allegations which could not be investigated by the unit, Kganyago said there were protocols in place to have the unit investigated independently should anyone raise complaints of this nature. He said the matter had yet to be put through a formal complaint process.

“I can safely tell you without fear of contradiction that we have followed the processes. The allegation that the following of processes has not been done is completely incorrect and we call upon anyone who wants to take that on to come forward, because it is clear that there is an attempt to derail us from what we are tasked to do. We are not going to allow that to happen. We have done what we are supposed to do, because for us integrity is a cornerstone. We can open up those processes to anybody because those processes are audited by the auditor general.”

The Sunday Times claims to have received complaints from other SIU employees who complained of Mothibi’s relationship with Nehawu, the union he claims also made similar allegations against him, and complained of alleged abuses of power and corruption by Mothibi.

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