SIU: Some companies in GP schools disinfecting scandal appointed via Whatsapp

Following an investigation, the SIU has been granted a preservation order to the value of R40.7 million by the Special Tribunal to freeze the bank accounts and assets of 14 service providers.

The companies were contracted to decontaminate schools during the first wave of COVID-19 infections to the tune of over R431-million. Picture: © teka77/123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG – The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on Thursday said some of the beneficiaries who were appointed to decontaminate schools in Gauteng supplied their company names to officials from the provincial education department through WhatsApp.

Following an investigation, the SIU has been granted a preservation order to the value of R40.7 million by the Special Tribunal to freeze the bank accounts and assets of 14 service providers.

The companies were contracted to decontaminate schools during the first wave of COVID-19 infections to the tune of over R431-million.

According to the unit, a portion of the funds paid to the service providers was transferred to multiple beneficiaries who have, in turn, disposed of them.

It said it would within the next 30 days, also seek an order to compel the companies to pay back all the money.

A probe by the SIU has revealed that the Gauteng education department did not follow due process in the procurement of services to decontaminate schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the majority of the companies whose assets were now frozen were not only unaccredited but were not even based in Gauteng, while some simply sent their names on WhatsApp before winning the tenders.

READ: SIU to freeze assets of 14 companies contracted to decontaminate Gauteng schools

“Treasury grants a deviation on the basis of emergency, but they must appoint accredited service providers from the central suppliers’ database. When we looked into it, we found that the officials of the department were just getting WhatsApp messages of companies and appointing them without following any process.”

Kganyago said after discovering some of the glaring irregularities around the procurement of these suppliers, the SIU decided to quickly block their accounts before the money disappeared.

“We could already see that they are using the money – they are buying cars, so we thought if we don’t act quickly, we are not going to find that money.”

The SIU said the next part of the investigation was to bring officials involved in the unlawful procurement to account.

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