The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has welcomed a Pretoria High Court dismissal of former Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku’s application challenging the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) investigation outcome report.

The application is related to PPE procurement by the Gauteng Department of Health in April 2020.

Reacting to the High Court outcome, the SIU said its investigation in the department found a number of irregularities in the appointment of service providers for the delivery and supply of PPE. It also found that Masuku failed to exercise appropriate oversight and act against the irregularities when he was made aware.

“The SIU submitted the report detailing the irregularities in the procurement process to Gauteng Premier David Makhura and recommended that an Executive Action be taken in respect of the former MEC who according to the SIU’s investigation failed to fulfil his obligations to comply with the Constitution; with his general oversight responsibilities in respect of the department which contributed to the department’s failure to comply with the prescripts of the Constitution, and his obligations in terms of the Public Finance Management Act,” reads the report.

The SIU investigation also found irregularities in relation to National Treasury instructions governing the COVID-19 procurement being ignored.

“The prices quoted exceeded the limits prescribed in the notes,” said the SIU.

During its investigation, the SIU also found there was no competitive bidding, deviations from standard procedure were authorised and the prescribed method to evaluate quotations was ignored.

In the statement, the SIU said the breakdown in conventional good governance checks and controls was extensive.

The SIU also found that Dr Masuku neglected to properly oversee operations of the Department of Health.

“Had he done so, he could have prevented the irregularities and proper systems put in place to alert him of what was actually happening. Dr Masuku did not respond adequately to the news of irregularities,” said the investigative unit.

Masuku charged that the SIU was irrational in formulating a dereliction of duty opinion. However, the High Court disagreed with him and found that the SIU was not irrational in forming its opinion. The court also found that Masuku should have been properly alert and taken direct action himself and his failure to act allowed malfeasance in the Department of Health to continue.

The SIU said the ruling affirms that the SIU is discharging its mandate of investigating allegations of corruption and maladministration in the affairs of State institutions in a manner that is fair and just, and its long standing statement that investigations conducted by the corruption busting Unit are evidence based and not influenced by any other measure.

The ruling, reads the statement, “also highlights and sends a clear message about the importance of Executive Authorities in putting measures in place to enable them to exercise appropriate oversight over the State Institutions they are accountable for”.

Welcoming the Judgment, the SIU Head, Adv. Andy Mothibi, said: “This judgment settles the question relating to the role of Executive Authorities including Accounting Officers, Accounting Authorities in their responsibilities and accountability relating to the State Institutions they are accountable for”.

He added that state officials should also read the judgment “to ensure that they understand it clearly”.

“As SIU we will at all times during the investigations relating to allegations against State Institutions ensure that, based on evidence, accountability is determined at all levels from officials, senior management, Accounting Officers, Accounting Authorities and Executive Authorities and that appropriate Consequence Management should be implemented,” he said.

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