Govt still owes Cuba R180m for SANDF's irregular procurement of drug, MPs told

MPs have heard how the SANDF irregularly bought the COVID-19 therapeutic for R215 million without approval from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra).

FILE: Defence Minister Thandi Modise. Picture: @ParliamentofRSA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The South African government still owes Cuba R180 million for the irregular procurement of the drug Heberon by the South African Defence Force (SANDF).

MPs have heard how the SANDF irregularly bought the COVID-19 therapeutic for R215 million without approval from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra).

The defence portfolio committee on Wednesday received briefings from Sahpra and the defence force about the issue.

Of particular concern to the defence committee is the finding that over 970,000 vials of the drug weren't approved by the regulator.

The committee's also raised concerns that up to 40% of the vials were compromised due to a disruption in the cold storage chain.

Secretary for Defence, Gladys Sonto Kudjoe, said that government still owed millions to Cuba.

“The total amount for the medicine that was bought totals R215 million and with R35 million already been paid, we owe R180 million in terms of settling the bill.”

Defence Minister Thandi Modise said that heads would roll once investigations were completed: “There is no way heads are not going to roll. The procurement systems were rubbished, there is no way heads are not going to roll.”

The department will brief the committee again in three weeks to provide an update on the matter.

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