President Cyril Ramaphosa has set up an investigations centre to probe all alleged corruption related to COVID-19 funds.

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has set up an investigation centre to probe alleged corruption related to the R500bn allocated by the government to ease the impact of COVID-19.

Ramaphosa announced this during a live address to the nation on Thursday on government’s strategies to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

Ramaphosa said different arms of the state such as the Financial Intelligence Centre, Hawks, Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will work together on the investigations.

Ramaphosa said investigations into the distribution of food parcels, social relief grants, the procurement of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) special COVID-19 scheme have already begun.

“We are determined that every instance of alleged corruption must be thoroughly investigated, that those responsible for wrongdoing should be prosecuted and that all monies stolen or overpriced are recovered.
The President also signed a special proclamation empowering the Special Investigating Unit to probe any contract or tender implicated in COVID-19 corruption,” said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa also signed a special proclamation empowering the Special Investigating Unit to probe any contract or tender implicated in COVID-19 corruption.

“In order to speed up and strengthen the process of dealing with corruption, I have today signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigating Unit – the SIU – to investigate any unlawful or improper conduct in the procurement of any goods, works and services during or related to the national state of disaster in any state institution,” said Ramaphosa.

At least 36 cases are currently at various stages of investigation and prosecution.

This week, the Sunday Independent reported that the husband of Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko is among the beneficiaries of the government’s multibillion-rand Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts.

The Sunday Independent expose revealed that Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko’s company, Royal Bhaca Projects (RB), was awarded contracts worth R125 million by the Gauteng Department of Health on March 30 – days after the president announced a national lockdown.

According to sources and official documents – including internal memos, quotations, purchase order commitment letters and the Gauteng Covid-19 expenditure report – Royal Bhaca scored two contracts worth R47m and R78m, respectively, for the supply and delivery of PPEs to the department.

Diko, the sole director of Royal Bhaca, married Khusela, who is also a member of the Gauteng ANC provincial executive committee (PEC), at a lavish traditional ceremony held at KwaBhaca in Mount Frere in December, 2018.

Royal Bhaca’s contracts were part of R2.2 billion PPE tenders awarded to 75 companies by the Gauteng Health Department since March 30, 2020.

Other major beneficiaries included Maponya Medical Solutions Pty (Ltd), which was awarded contracts valued at more than R265m, Nkane Projects, which got a R257m tender, LMD Engineering, which benefited to the tune of R165m, as well as LNG Scientific, which walked off with a R113m contract.

On Thursday, Diko defended her husband, whose company allegedly received a R125m tender to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Gauteng health department.

Diko denied allegations of corruption, but acknowledged that King Madzikane Thandisizwe Diko II had received “commitment letters” which were never fulfilled.

“There was no tender bonanza. I am informed that the two commitment letters in question were not implemented. No public funds were disbursed to Royal Bhaca for services rendered either wholly or in part. There is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of myself, my husband or Royal Bhaca,” she said in a statement. 

Diko said she talked her husband out of the tender, as she feared there could be perceived conflict of interests. 

“I believe I acted correctly by asking my husband to withdraw from the transaction. I confirm that my husband informed me when he received the commitment letters to supply PPE to the department. It was our determination after consulting the relevant procurement regulations, that there was no inherent reason Royal Bhaca should not proceed with supply. 

(Compiled by Inside Politics staff)

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