FS govt unable to probe PPE irregularity due to SIU impediment, lawyer argues

The Special Tribunal is hearing a review application by the SIU seeking to set aside the procurement decisions and actions of the Free State Treasury.

FILE: Healthcare workers removing their PPE. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Lawyers for the Free State health MEC and Treasury say a freeze order by the Special Investigating Unit impeded its investigation into irregularities involving 32 contractors who were hired to supply surgical gowns at the cost of R39.1 million.

The Special Tribunal is on Wednesday hearing a review application by the SIU seeking to set aside the procurement decisions and actions of the Free State Treasury.

Advocate Anton Katz for the two Free State departments said his clients’ complaint was that a freeze order by the SIU had prohibited them from investigating what went wrong.

The SIU said its investigations found that only three out of the 32 companies delivered the correct surgical gowns while others failed to meet the technical specification and were defective.

Katz took issue with inferences that there was gross maladministration on the part of the health and Treasury departments.

“It was investigating itself, it reported itself to the SIU but it was stopped from finalising the investigation. We were prevented from paying the service providers and returning the gowns.”

The respondents in the case say the issues being debated were contractual and not process-related.

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