SIU freezes R22.4m from more companies implicated in irregular Gauteng school sanitisation tenders

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The department of basic education has supplied schools with cleaning services.
The department of basic education has supplied schools with cleaning services.
Deaan Vivier
  • SIU freezes seven more bank accounts with R22.4 million in relation to Gauteng school sanitation tenders.
  • Last month, the SIU froze money and assets worth R40.7 million.
  • Tenders for the decontamination of schools were irregularly awarded, SIU said. 

The Special Investigating Unit has been granted an order to freeze seven more bank accounts of companies implicated in irregular enders to sanitise Gauteng schools. 

On Tuesday, the SIU said they had been granted an order by the Special Tribunal to freeze bank accounts with R22.4 million. 

The companies whose banks are frozen are Chachulani Group Investment Holdings, Muta Investment Holdings, Netvision Energy Savers, Psychin Consulting, Home Ground Trading 1105, Mpale Investments Holdings, and Naledzi Investment Trust.  

The R22.4 million order is in addition to the R40.7 million preservation order granted last month. The SIU last month froze bank accounts worth R40.7 million, which belong to seven companies, five people and two family trusts, to which the education department awarded contracts.

Bank accounts, with  R6 million and assets worth an estimated R4.7 million, were frozen. The assets included two Mercedes Benz V Class, a Range Rover Sport, Haval H6 and a Toyota Avanza. 

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

According to a statement by the SIU, the companies, along with about 200 others, were irregularly appointed by the Gauteng education department to sanitise schools for R431 million. 

“The companies began dissipating the funds received from the Gauteng Department of Education upon receipt. Traces of the funds show that the companies made large payments to unidentified recipients who have, in turn, disposed of them.

“Some of the funds went towards travel and accommodation and towards loan repayments. It appears that the companies have been disposing of the funds with the intention of frustrating any claim that the SIU may have to those funds,” SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said.

ALSO READ | Dodgy school tenders: 'Someone must act against me' if I'm guilty - Lesufi reacts to SIU probe

He said the SIU would launch review proceedings in the Special Tribunal by 19 June and seek an order against the service providers to pay back all the money they received from the contracts.

Through their investigation, Kganyago said, they found the procurement process by the education department was unlawful. 

According to Kganyago, the Gauteng education department obtained a deviation under Treasury regulations to conduct the procurement process without inviting competitive bids. The department did so because emergency procurement was necessary, given the urgent need to appoint service providers to decontaminate schools exposed to Covid-19. The request for the deviation expressly stated that the Department would “appoint accredited service providers from the Central Supplier Database (CSD)”.  

Despite this,  173 of the 280 service providers appointed were not accredited and were not on the CSD. “On this basis alone, the SIU will argue before the Special Tribunal that the procurement process was unlawful and falls to be reviewed and set aside.”

He said their investigation revealed that the procurement process was also not cost-effective. “The service providers were not paid per square meter of the area cleaned. Rather, a senior official in the department appears to have arbitrarily decided to offer a fee of R250 000 to R270 000 for the decontamination of primary schools; R250 000 to R290 000 for secondary schools; and R250 000 to R300 000 for district offices. The fees bear no relation to the work done by service providers or the cost of material used.” 

Last Monday, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he should face action if he was implicated in the SIU report on the irregular tenders.

Lesufi was speaking at Cornwall Hill College in Irene near Pretoria, where parents and pupils were protesting against racism and discrimination.

"I will act immediately. I will act without fear or favour on whoever is implicated. Even if it (the report) mentions me. Someone must act against me," Lesufi said.He added that he would also act against whoever else was mentioned in the report as soon as he received it.

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