SIU and Hawks raid offices of Ratlou municipality in North West
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and Hawks investigators on Friday raided the Ratlou local municipality's offices as part of a probe into alleged irregular and overpriced procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Officials in the Setlagole village-based municipality in the North West failed dismally to co-operate with the SIU investigation, said SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.
“The SIU received information from a whistle-blower that a senior official at the municipality instructed officials to appoint service providers who are allegedly known to the senior official, for the provision of PPE and material to be used for disinfection of buildings,” he said.
“The appointments were done without following supply chain policies and emergency procurement directives issued by the National Treasury.
“It is further alleged that quotations received from the service providers were exorbitantly higher than the prescribed price limits.”
Officials are also accused of abusing petrol cards for Covid-19-related travel. “The whistle-blower informed the SIU that one card would incur up to R5,000 for a local trip that is less than 60km.”
The Covid-19-related expenditure incurred by the municipality is estimated to be about R25m. “The figure is likely to rise after the raid,” said Kganyago.
The municipality was placed under administration in January.
“It is alleged that once the announcement of the intervention was made, the municipality began to make rushed payments to service providers who, among others, were appointed for the supply and delivery of PPE, without ensuring that services had been rendered in accordance to specification.
“When the appointed administrator and her team resumed their duties at the municipal offices, they were chased away by a group of individuals.”
A court order affirmed her powers, and the administrator placed the municipal manager on precautionary suspension. However, the council continues to disregard the administrator, said Kganyago.
“To date, the SIU team has been unable to access information and documentation pertaining to procurement undertaken during the national state of disaster and such information is only in the municipality’s possession.”