It’s the big one – Hawks nab four state officials

Andile Sicetsha - 22.10.2020

As promised, the Hawks have arrested four former state officials from Gauteng’s Health Dept. on tender fraud charges.

Four former state officials from Gauteng’s Department of Health were rounded up by the Hawks, on Thursday morning.

This is the priority arrest the Directorate of Priority Crimes and Intelligence (DPCI) hinted at earlier this week.

Hawks bring 13-year investigation to a close

According to Hawks police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase, it took 13 years to bring the suspects involved to book.

From what we understand, in 2007, the government-owned State Information Technology Agency (SITA) submitted a proposal to the Department of Health “to continue with an information technology maintenance programme at the department.”

The maximum budget allocation for this tender was placed at R57 million for a three-year period.

Somewhere along the line, the tender process was hijacked by unknown figures and instead of granting the project to the qualifying SITA, “the contract was instead awarded to a private entity at a whooping cost of around R1.2 billion without following due tender procedures.”

“The four former state officials which included a former Head of Department (HoD), who was also an Accounting Officer at the time, Chief Director of Information Communication and Technology, Head of Supply Chain Management and the Deputy Director for Executive Support allegedly received kickbacks for their role in ensuring that the contract was awarded to an undeserving entity,” Lt-Col. Nkwalase noted in a statement.

Two private-sector cronies are still on the loose

The big fish, however, are still on the loose. Two company directors of the shoddy firm stand accused of unduly benefitting from this tender scam and the Hawks have warned that their days are numbered.

“The said directors are reportedly outside of the country but steps have already been initiated to ensure that they are accounted for,” the statement read.

Hawks tender arrest: Who are the accused state officials?

The identities of the four former state officials will be unveiled at their first appearance at the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crime Court, on Thursday afternoon.

“They are to face charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA),” Lt-Col. Nkwalase concluded.