By Anna Cox Time of article published21h ago

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The DA in the City of Joburg says that it has since December been calling for the city to account for all the Covid-19 expenditure, most of which has been tainted by fraud and corruption

A progress report was finally tabled this week.

“However, there is no actual comment from the SIU (Special Investigating Unit) on where they are with their investigation, while it seems there is no one in the city being held responsible. Even in the city’s companies, where the bulk of the spending has occurred, boards and CEOs haven’t so much as lifted a finger,” said DA councillor Leah Knott.

“Mayor (Geoff) Makhubo tabled a whitewashed list that was scrubbed of any detail, now claiming that the total spend is ‘only’ R234 million. This despite an internal audit report from July 2020 which had over R600million as the total spend – with more than R400 million flagged as highly suspicious. The report has since been buried and any demands to bring it before the oversight committees are ignored,” she said.

The DA says:

– Most companies that were listed as suppliers have no track record of supplying PPE or medical equipment, some were registered late last year, while others are not listed on the supplier database. Prices for masks, gloves, and sanitiser vary: City Power paid R3 000 for 100ml of sanitiser gel, R5000 for a mask, and R50 for a pair of gloves. Other companies paid a fraction of this.

– More than R45m has been spent on deep-cleaning and fogging city buildings despite the National Department of Health advising against this, with rates being inflated by more than 500%. In one case, the Joburg Property Company paid seven companies nearly R1m each to clean the same building on the same day.

– No attention was given to PPE for staff and the public at community facilities such as libraries, swimming pools and recreation centres.

– More than R470m has been spent on temporary relocation areas with little to show for it. Spending per unit varies from R65 000 to R375 000 without any details .

– 1 500 city employees illegally claimed Covid benefits.

An internal investigation conducted by the City indicated that legislation and policies on procurement led to the irregular expenditure of more than R80m within the first two weeks of the state of disaster.

“The mayor’s only response was that he has no control over officials and city companies, and to pass the buck for everything to the SIU,” Knott said.

“This is despite the SIU only being appointed in November 2020, so effectively no investigations were done nor action taken by him until then.”

The DA has given Makhubo an ultimatum to submit a full audit report in seven days, failing which the party will not allow council to proceed.

Makhubo said: “We made a commitment both to council and to leaders of political parties that we will provide regular reports on expenditure related to Covid-19 for scrutiny and for the information of residents.

“We also commissioned our own internal audit of Covid-19 procurement and expenditure, which has unearthed some areas of non-compliance and possible illegal activities that are now under investigation by the (SIU) and Group Forensic and Investigative Services (GFIS).

“We are eagerly awaiting the finalisation of this. Once finalised, we will move swiftly against any persons implicated,” he said.

A progress report has been presented to the council. The report was due in December, and Makhubo expressed his dissatisfaction with the delays, to the city manager and responsible managers.

He said he had also written to the SIU to request an update on their investigations and progress thus far.

The Star