Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says action will be taken against anyone involved, even himself if implicated, in the R431 million school sanitation scandal, pending the finalisation of the investigation.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investigating the Gauteng department of education after well over R400 million was spent on school decontamination because of Covid-19, in just three months.
The SIU found that 173 service providers appointed to decontaminate Gauteng schools were not accredited and not on the Central Supplier Database.
It has since frozen the assets of 14 entities linked to the contracts.
There have been mounting calls for Lesufi to step down or suspend executives in the provincial education department – including head of department Edward Mosuwe, chief financial officer (CFO) Johan van Coller and supply chain management chief director Samora Mhlophe – involved in the scandal.
‘We will act decisively’
Speaking during a press briefing on Sunday, Lesufi welcomed the progress of the SIU investigation, Jacaranda FM reported.
“That is one chapter of the department that still hurts me. It is something that I did not expect from the department that I am leading, but I cannot fold my arms and say this happened and therefore we can’t take action.
“I am excited that the SIU has prioritised it. I wrote to them asking for it to be prioritised. They have moved with abnormal speed and for that I am grateful, so we are waiting for the final report,” the MEC said.
Lesufi further said he would act decisively against those implicated once the SIU completes its final report.
“I regret that incident, it has affected the department so badly and as somebody that is presiding over this department it is something that I least expected.
“When the final report is released, we will act on it and act decisively without fear or favour or who is affected, even if it’s me, I will go to the premier and tell him that the report says he should act against me, and I will not make it difficult for the premier [David Makhura],” he said.
Bank accounts frozen
Last Friday, seven service providers who were contracted to decontaminate schools failed to have a preservation order freezing R22 million held in their bank accounts overturned.
The application, which was heard by the Special Tribunal, was dismissed with costs.
The seven companies are among the 280 contractors that have been awarded contracts by the Gauteng department of education.
The companies had asked the tribunal to reconsider the order. They argued that the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to grant the orders made because it was not a court.
In May this year, the SIU was granted a preservation order to freeze the companies’ accounts.
The order was to the value of R40.7 million.
Additional reporting by Siyanda Ndlovu