SIU says Bandile Masuku seemingly lacks understanding of its PPE probe against him
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on Sunday moved to quash claims by former Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku that his reinstatement by the ANC proves he did nothing wrong in the province’s procurement of PPE last year.
“As these aspects of the statements relate to the SIU findings, the SIU is left with no other option but to set the record straight. If the statements are not corrected, they would have the effect of affecting the credibility of the SIU findings and to mislead the public,” said SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago in a statement.
Masuku had on Saturday issued a statement saying he was vindicated after the ANC this week announced that its national disciplinary committee (NDC) had overturned his and Khusela Diko’s suspensions from the Gauteng provincial executive committee (PEC).
They had been booted out of the PEC last year following a much-publicised personal protective equipment scandal in Masuku’s department. The scandal saw Diko’s husband, the now late AmaBhaca chief Thandiziwe Diko’s company, Royal Bhaca, awarded a multimillion-rand Covid-19 PPE tender. The Masukus and the Dikos were close family friends.
In his statement after the NDC's ruling, Masuku said his reinstatement by the party was a “victory for justice”. He also referred to last month's court ruling where he lost his bid to overturn the SIU report that led to his sacking.
Masuku highlighted parts of the judgment.
“On the 12 April 2021, a full bench of the North Gauteng High Court per Sutherland J emphatically found that the SIU’s findings that I was involved in corruption and nepotism are devoid of merit.
“At the time, the SIU had effectively propped me as the proverbial poster boy of COVID-19 related corruption. Specifically, the court found that the SIU saw no crime being committed by me and that there was no basis for civil action against me. In its ruling, the NDC acknowledged the Court ruling. that this and the high court findings from last month that he was not involved in corruption and nepotism are devoid of merit”.
But Kganyago said it seemed as though Masuku did not understand the basis of their investigation nor last month's court findings.
“To set the record straight, the SIU has never made a finding of corruption and nepotism against the sacked MEC of health in Gauteng yet, as the investigations were still going on,” he said.
He added that their investigations against Masuku were continuing. He did not rule out the possibility that these could result in further legal action being taken against him.
“The SIU is on record stating that, at the time of making a referral to the Gauteng premier David Makhura to take action against Dr. Masuku, it had concluded the process and administrative part of the investigation of the Gauteng health department procurement of PPE to fight the pandemic. The criminal investigation is still ongoing,” Kganyago said.
“When evidence pointing to criminality is uncovered during the criminal investigation, the SIU will refer such evidence to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks for further action,” Kganyago added.
Kganyago pointed out that the court was never asked to make a finding on whether Masuku was corrupt but it had to make a finding on whether corruption thrived under his watch because of his negligence.
Kganyago said the court found this to be the case and referred Masuku to a scathing paragraph within the judgment.
“Paragraph 65.1 of that high court judgment that Masuku claims has exonerated him further states that: Masuku was neglectful in his duties, as illustrated by his failure to attend to his emails, despite being in a critical leadership position. This conduct justifies adverse inference about his lack of professionalism and lack of care in discharging his functions.”
“His conduct shows a lack of judgment and diligence. What he is criticized for is not for lying; but for neglect. The version given that he did not read an e-mail he had requested is a foundation for the opinion of his neglect of his role. Prima facie, Dr Masuku’s own version is a confession of unprofessionalism and dereliction of his duties. Had he bothered to read his emails, and done so on 1 or 2 April, he could have been shocked at Royal Bhaca getting a contract then and not only in mid-May some six weeks later. He could have stopped the debacle there and then,” the judgment continued.
In his statement, Kganyago added that this was not the end of the road of their pursuit of Masuku.
“The SIU is in the process of recovering the cost from him,” he said.