Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)
‘It’s time to bring crooks to book’
AG says law enforcement agencies must act on those found to have looted Covid-19 funds and inflated PPE deals
AUDITOR-General (AG) Kimi Makwetu wants law enforcement agencies to go after people implicated in the looting of the Covid-19 funds after his team made damning findings.
Makwetu told the standing committee on the auditor-general in parliament yesterday it was now up to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the Hawks to follow up on some of the cases.
He said of the R500 billion set aside to deal with Covid-19, they were looking at the misuse of R147bn. In one investigation the AG found that R800 000 of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) was paid out to people who were dead, underage or prisoners.
“This required action from law enforcement agencies,” Makwetu said.
“On the UIF, we wanted to see whether you have complied with the labour laws of the country. That is why we found the UIF paid people below the age of employment.”
They also compared the database of the UIF and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and found that some of the people were paid by the two agencies.
In other instances, the UIF was milked of millions of rand by people who were not intended to benefit from the scheme. They were irregularly paid the monies. Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi this week suspended senior officials at the UIF following the irregularities.
Nxesi said yesterday he hoped the
NPA, Hawks and other state agencies would act on the AG’s findings and arrest people. Makwetu said they also looked at the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and that some of the suppliers inflated their prices.
Makwetu also said they found that 30 000 people had been irregularly paid the R350 unemployment grant by Sassa.
The AG also told the committee they also found that some of the departments ordered PPE, but these were not delivered. He said they identified a number of high-risk PPE suppliers and some did not meet the criteria to supply the departments.
“There were many suppliers given orders. There are many that showed emergency orders in May and June but in July those orders were not delivered,” said Makwetu.
“There was no paper trail in some of the instances. We have flagged these matters. Our data analysis points to the high risk of fraud and abuse of funds,” said Makwetu.