R431 Million Tender Scandal Implicates Education Department

A person in PPE gear cleansing windows

Between June and August 2020, the Gauteng Department of Education spent more than R431-million on sanitizing schools. The Special Investigating Unit SIU was reported to have been briefed to investigate the legitimacy of procurement process.   

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A Special Tribunal heard virtual arguments from companies who provided a service to several schools at exaggerated prices in Gauteng, some of which charged 27 times the normal rate.

Gauteng Education department officials have come under scrutiny over tender corruption allegations.

This comes after the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) published a preliminary report in August by which it recommended disciplinary action be taken against officials involved in the R431 million Gauteng schools sanitizing tender.

At the tribunal hearing on Wednesday, it was revealed that many companies benefitted from the tender, including some who were not registered on the government's central supplier database.

The service providers were reported to have worked under pressure to reopen schools at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking in defence of the companies, the Lawyer, John Peter said there was nothing untoward about contracts they secured with the Gauteng Department of Education.

Peter explained that the department never made requests for a quote for the rendered services, instead they offered companies their own prices.

 I normally get briefed by the State attorney and I normally get told that what my rate is, is not what I normally charge, and I must accept or decline the brief.  

The SIU however said the statement by Peter doesn’t absolve the companies to the scandal as they were supposed to have offered standard prices to the services executed.  

Therefore, the unit is seeking to have those tenders to be regarded as being unlawful and invalid.

The service providers reportedly argued that since schools were under pressure to reopen , there was nothing wrong with what they did.

In May, the SIU was granted a protection order to freeze the companies’ accounts. SIU spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago said that they initiated their investigation upon finding allegations of inappropriate procurement process for the rendered services.

                  

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