Getting a government tender by sending a WhatsApp message

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The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has uncovered staggering irregularities related to the Gauteng Department of Education’s tenders to clean schools.

Daily Maverick reported in January that the Gauteng Department of Education spent R431 million in three months to “deep clean” schools in the province.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he was dismayed about the millions spent on decontamination, deep cleaning, sanitisation in different schools.

Lesufi said he was consulting with law enforcement agencies about an investigation into the matter.

The SIU subsequently launched an investigation into allegations of unlawful procurement of services by the Gauteng education department.

In May, the SIU was granted a preservation order to the value of R40.7 million to freeze bank accounts and assets belonging to 14 service providers.

The 14 service providers included seven companies, five individuals, and two family trusts.

The order prohibited the following entities from dealing with the funds held in their bank accounts and assets:

Fikile Mpofana Pty Ltd
Insimu Projects Pty Ltd
Insimu Consulting Pty Ltd
Insimu Medical Group
Mangaliso Pty Ltd
Lisondalo Pty Ltd
Zenaldo Consulting Pty Ltd
Sigwile Bright Mhlongo
Fikele Eugenia Mpofana
Lindokuhle Bridget Mkhize
Njabulo Mabaso
Richard Mweli
Shuphula Family Trust
Madangu Family Trust

The SIU said at the time that it would seek an order against the service providers to pay back all profits as a consequence of their appointment.

The SIU has now released a preliminary report that recommended disciplinary action against officials involved in the tender scandal.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said their investigation confirmed that the procurement processes were improper.

“Companies that were not registered received tenders. We have also found that people who received tenders by simply sending a WhatsApp to officials in the department,” Kganyago said.

The SIU has now sent the Gauteng department of education a referral to ensure the officials implicated in the misconduct will be held accountable.

Kganyago said they had sent evidence of the misdeeds to the department to start disciplinary action against the implicated staff members.

He said apart from helping departments to hold people accountable, they also recover the money stolen through tender rigging processes.

“We have already frozen the accounts from some of the people, and we will continue to do that so that we ultimately recover the money,” he said.

People who are implicated in criminal activities are also referred to the National Prosecuting Authority.

“They will be held liable in a criminal sense, and some of them will end up in prison,” Kganyago said.

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