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President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the release of the Special Investigating Unit's report into Covid-19 deals. Stock photo. Picture: 123RF/Olivier Le Moal
President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the release of the Special Investigating Unit's report into Covid-19 deals. Stock photo. Picture: 123RF/Olivier Le Moal

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday authorised the publication of the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU’s) 18-month investigation into procurement by all government departments associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The SIU has investigated 5,467 contracts awarded to 3,066 service providers with a total value of R14.3bn. Investigations have been finalised with respect to 4,549 contracts, of which 2,803 were found to be irregular. This amounts to 62% of the finalised investigations,” acting presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale said on Tuesday.

Investigations have found “45 matters constituting a combined value of R2.1bn [that] have been enrolled with the Special Tribunal on corruption, fraud and illicit money flows”, Seale said.

“The SIU has made 224 referrals for disciplinary action against officials in government departments or entities ... [and] 386 referrals to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), as well as three referrals for executive action.”

There have been 330 referrals for administrative action, which includes blacklisting, he said.

“The rand value of actual cash and assets to be recovered on the basis of the investigation is R551.5m, while cash and assets recovered to date total R34.2m. The value of potential loss prevented by the investigation is R114.2m, while contracts set aside amount to R170.4m,” Seale said.

The report published on Tuesday does not include details of ongoing investigations into allegations received by the SIU after the timeline set for matters to be included in the final report.

“The SIU expects these matters, which are covered by the proclamation, to be completed between March and April 2022 before the submission of a supplementary report to the president at the end of June 2022,” Seale said

The release of the report follows the president’s authorisation on July 23 2020 of an investigation by the SIU in terms of Section 4(1)(f) of the Special Investigating Unit and Special Tribunals Act.

Ramaphosa authorised the SIU to probe any allegations relating to the misuse of Covid-19 funds across all spheres of government and gave the assurance that if the SIU found evidence that a criminal offence had been committed, it was obliged to refer such evidence to the NPA.

The proclamation also empowered the SIU to institute civil proceedings to recover any damages or losses incurred by the state, said Seale.

Ramaphosa said the final report “is an important step in our fight against corruption in the public and private sectors, and against maladministration.

“This investigation targeted individuals and institutions who believed they could exploit a moment of national vulnerability to enrich themselves and those with whom they colluded to abuse public resources.”

He said it was unacceptable “that so many contracts associated with saving lives and protecting livelihoods were irregular, unlawful or fraudulent. This investigation demonstrates our determination to root out corruption and to deal with perpetrators.

“The final report details matters referred by the SIU to the NPA, departments and entities in the public sector and other parties, who will finalise the process of bringing wrongdoers to book and addressing weaknesses identified by the SIU investigation.”

The report can be accessed here.

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