Special Investigative Unit Freezes R40 million Worth of Assets in School Sanitisation Scandal

By Oliver Ngwenya    27-May-2021 18:25 UTC+02:00

The Special Investigative Unit (SIU) was, on Thursday, granted an order by the Special Tribunal to freeze the assets of companies that benefitted from the tenders awarded by the Gauteng Department of Education to sanitize schools. A total of R40 million worth of assets belonging to seven companies, five individuals, and two family trusts were frozen following the order by the tribunal. This was confirmed by the SIU spokesman, Kaizer Kganyago, who said, “The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has been granted a preservation order to the value of R40.7m by the Special Tribunal to freeze bank accounts and assets belonging to 14 service providers. The service providers were contracted by Gauteng Department of Education to decontaminate schools to the tune of over R431m.”

The said companies were part of those that were awarded tenders by the Gauteng Department of Education to decontaminate, disinfect, and sanitize schools. It was, however, noted that some of the schools had been irregularly awarded these tenders. In addition, it was discovered during the investigation that, out of the 280 service providers that were used by the department, 173 were not on the Central Supplier Database (CSD), which meant that they were not known suppliers. In addition, the due process that should be followed was not, with the result that things were not done properly in the awarding of these tenders. In a statement, the SIU described the awarding of tenders in the province to be haphazard and unfair. Another anomaly in the selection of service providers was that the process should have been done by the Supply Chain Management (SCM) but this was not done.

The SIU also found that the process of paying the service providers was not done in a cost-effective way. Service providers were not paid according to the amount of work they had put in but were rather arbitrarily rewarded by some official at the department. Said the unit statement, “the service providers were not paid per square metre 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 the decontamination of secondary schools, and R250 000 to R300 000 for district offices.”

The unit also revealed that bank accounts worth a sum of R6 million and assets worth more than R4.7 million had been frozen. The assets, the statement revealed, included two Mercedes Benz V Class, Range Rover Sport Haval H6, and a Toyota Avanza. The SIU also added that it would be launching an order in the next 30 days compelling the service providers to pay back the money.

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