Gauteng school tenders: Lesufi says he won't act until he sees final SIU report

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There is an investigation into tenders for santising Gauteng schools.
There is an investigation into tenders for santising Gauteng schools.
GCIS
  • Despite progress made by SIU in its tender irregularity investigation, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says he will only act when he gets the final report.
  • But according to the SIU, there is still a long way to go before it compiles that report. 
  • SIU announced on Tuesday that seven more bank accounts containing R22.4 million had been frozen. 

While the DA repeats its call for Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi to act against officials behind irregular tenders to sanitise schools, he says he is remaining mum on the issue, at least until a full report with findings and recommendations is given to him. 

The Special Investigating Unit announced on Tuesday that it had been granted an order to freeze seven more bank accounts of companies that were implicated in the dodgy tenders, News24 reported. 

The unit said the Special Tribunal to freeze bank accounts with R22.4 million. 

According to the departmental spokesperson, Steve Mabona, however, the office is "reluctant to run parallel" commentary until the SIU presents a report to him. 

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But according to the SIU, there is still a long road ahead before such a report will be tabled, first to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who would then pass it on. 

Lesufi continues to say he will wait for the report, as more things continue to come to light in the SIU's investigation. 

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the amounts currently frozen were not even close to a quarter of the R431-million irregular tender. 

In January, the MEC was dismayed when the Gauteng Government Expenditure Disclosure report compiled by the infrastructure management directorate in the department, revealed that the total amount of money spent to sanitise schools between June and August 2020 was R431 274 959.17, News24 reported.

Kganyago said the SIU had come across companies using their funds "vigorously", which led to them asking the Special Tribunal to freeze the accounts. 

He said the accounts were being frozen while the probe continued. 

READ | SIU freezes assets worth R40.7m of Gauteng companies contracted for school fumigations

Tuesday's announcement of R22.4-million order was in addition to the R40.7-million preservation order granted to the unit last month. 

Bank accounts containing R40.7 million belonging to seven companies, five people and two family trusts - to which the department awarded contracts - were frozen. 

According to the DA, Lesufi should be using the SIU's investigation progress report as enough evidence to suspend top officials for the tender irregularities.

"The DA has already called on MEC Lesufi to suspend the department’s Head of Department (HOD), Edward Mosuwe, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Johan van Coller and Supply Chain Management Chief Director, Samora Mhlophe.

"The SIU’s job is enough to compel MEC Lesufi to take action," DA MPL Khume Ramulifho said on Wednesday.

Mabona replied:

The Gauteng MEC for Education, Mr Panyaza Lesufi, became aware of this matter after following media enquiries from the Daily Maverick. He immediately requested the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the Auditor-General (AG) to investigate accordingly. "So far, neither the MEC nor the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) have received the report from the SIU.

Ramulifho said it was "strange" that Lesufi had not yet acted against officials despite the progress of the probe, but the department said it was "eagerly" awaiting the findings and recommendations before taking action. 

The MPL said the SIU's probe so far was commendable and that the DA believed that the recovered money would assist to eradicate asbestos schools, and ensure children's lives were not in danger. 

He added that the good work done by the unit would be in vain if the department's HOD, CFO, and Supply Chain Management Chief Director were not held accountable for failing to adequately review and monitor compliance as required by the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations.

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"It is high time that these officials face the consequences of their irresponsible actions that costed the ability of our children to be taught in a conducive learning environment. The DA will not let MEC Lesufi sweep this matter under the rug," Ramulifho said.

The companies whose bank accounts were: Chachulani Group Investment Holdings, Muta Investment Holdings, Netvision Energy Savers, Psychin Consulting, Home Ground Trading 1105, Mpale Investments Holdings, and Naledzi Investment Trust.

Lesufi has previously said that he should also be acted against if he is implicated in the report.

Kganyago said: "The department (of education) is also aware that when we finish our investigation, we give the report to the president. And the president will be the one to decide whether what to do - whether to send it to them but he usually sends it to them.

"If in the [investigating] process we have to do preservations like these, we do it. If we find that there are outcomes where people need to be discipline, we will give that section of the report to them for being the evidence for them to take it further. 

"But for now, we have not given them anything. We work on the reports when we are done with investigations. At the moment we still no way to finishing the investigation. As you can see, the amounts we have preserved is about over R63 million but this whole contract is R431 million, it's not even a quarter of where we are going." 

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