Court dismisses attempt to review SIU COVID-19 investigation report

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Eastern Cape High Court has dismissed an application by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to review and set aside a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation report which found possible wrongdoing in a R24.6 million COVID-19 procurement contract.

The investigation into the contract was kicked off after a whistleblower reported possible wrongdoing to the SIU.

According to SIU Spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago, the investigation found that proper procurement processes were not followed during the awarding of the contract.

“The SIU investigation report…revealed that processes governing public procurement were not followed when the municipality appointed HT Paletona Projects Pty Ltd to construct 2000 toilets and 2000 standpipes with aerators in informal settlements within its municipal boundaries.

“The Municipality used the declaration of the National State of Disaster to circumvent proper procurement processes, which resulted in the award of a contract to the value to the R24.6 million.

“Only 200 toilets were built when the SIU issued a letter to the municipality to stop payment, as the unit had referred the contract to the Special Tribunal for review. Two disciplinary referrals were made against two senior officials for their role in the awarding of the contract,” he said.

Kganyago explained that in its application, the municipality told the court that the corruption busting unit’s report was “irrational and arbitrary and influenced by material errors of law”, which the court dismissed.

“In dismissing the rather unusual application brought by an organ of State, Acting Judge Kruger said that the challenge of the report was based simply on its aversion or dislike of the findings in the report. That is not a reason enough for the report to be set aside, Judge Kruger said.

“Though the SIU welcomes the dismissal of the review application and respect rights of implicated parties to challenge its reports, it is worried by the step taken by the municipality as an organ of the State.

“SIU investigations in State intuitions also identify lapses in governance and processes which exposes the State to irregular and wasteful expenditure and make recommendations to ensure such lapses do not recur,” Kganyago said. –