Three Mpumalanga government officials and three suppliers have been arrested on charges of fraud and theft in connection with the procurement of personal protective equipment during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The six suspects who defrauded the state of R1.38 million by submitting deceitful claims for services, which were never provided, appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.
“The scope of corruption expanded to other officials and company directors who also benefitted. The matter was reported to the Hawks in November for further probe,” said Mpumalanga Hawks spokesperson Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi.
The department of public works officials Deputy Chief Sipho Monareng (50), MacDonald Boto Sigudla (43), state accountant Bandile Jacob Ngcebo (41) and suppliers Maganeleng Antony Mashego (43), Whisky Delisa Khumalo (45) as well as Tshidi Suzen Sedibe (43) were granted a bail of R10 000 each.
“During further investigation, it was established that Monareng facilitated the whole process. The case was finalised and handed over to the court, which issued warrants for their arrests, hence, their appearance before the court,” added Sekgotodi.
The provincial head of the Hawks, Major General Zodwa Mokoena, facilitated the finalisation of the investigation. The matter is postponed until November 2.
In June, Mpumalanga Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs head, Samukelo Ngubane (50), handed himself over to the Hawks after he was charged for flouting the law in the awarding of a R5.9 million contract to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ngubane contravened the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) as an accounting officer of the department when the tender was awarded.
In March, City Press penned an article listing five staggering Covid-19 corruption scandals. Read more here.
Among those implicated, Gauteng is the worst culprit of all provinces.
The SIU report into PPE corruption revealed that Gauteng was the worst offender among all the provinces. With more than R6 billion worth of contracts under the probe, the SIU indicated that 93% of the province’s procurement contracts showed irregularities.
A total 1 906 contracts were investigated.