PPE sums in Eastern Cape schools just don't add up
The Eastern Cape education department seemingly bungled the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to schools after issuing a list that was riddled with inaccuracies. The list was given to the provincial legislature.
The blunders come amid calls for the government to act against those implicated in the country's PPE procurement scandal.
One of the most glaring errors in the provincial education department's list was that Beezee Bee Events had been awarded a R5.6m contract for the supply of PPE to 52 schools in the OR Tambo inland district. This was not the case.
The list also erroneously mentioned that Yolo Empire had been awarded a R5.8m contract to supply PPE to 60 schools in the Sarah Baartman district. It was given a contract of only R2.9m for 30 schools.
The list was e-mailed to the provincial legislature's committee on education on August 19 and tabled the next day.
The two discrepancies were discovered by the Sunday Times after calling some of the companies that were awarded contracts.
Beezee Bee Events was omitted from the Treasury's list, made public this week. The contract for Yolo Empire in the Treasury's list was reflected as R2.9m, not R5.8m.
Nonkululeko Maswazi, director of Beezee Bee Events, said she applied but received no award. "The purpose of me bidding was to be awarded. I want that money."
Lulama Jakavula, director of Yolo Empire, said that she felt "hard done by" in not being awarded the contract for R5.8m.
"I want to know what happened to the other 30 schools that I was supposedly given. Were they allocated to someone else?
"According to the document, I was allocated R5.8m when I was actually awarded R2.9m.
"The whole PPE procurement is the news of the day, so I would not want to be seen as benefiting from R5.8m when I did not."
Besides events and entertainment companies, a music production house and estate agents are also among those that scored lucrative contracts for the supply of PPE to schools.
The nine provincial education departments spent R1.7bn on PPE. The biggest expenditures were in the Eastern Cape (R545.4m) and KwaZulu-Natal (R487.4m).
Despite raking in almost R2.2m for distributing PPE to 26 schools in the Eastern Cape's Alfred Nzo West district, Stens Women's Business Services allegedly supplied poor-quality sanitisers.
The whole PPE procurement is the news of the day, so I would not want to be seen as benefiting from R5.8m when I did notDirector of Beezee Bee Events Nonkululeko Maswazi
The Eastern Cape's superintendent-general, Themba Kojana, told the provincial legislature that Stens was being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). This follows revelations that the alcohol-based content in sanitisers supplied to Makaula Senior Secondary School in Mount Frere was 57.6% instead of the minimum 70%.
A total of 204 pupils and hostel assistants at the school tested positive for Covid-19 in June.
The Western Cape education department said the SIU was investigating a contract awarded to Masiqhame Trading 1,057 CC "as part of its countrywide investigation".
The company, which was awarded a three-year contract in 2017 to supply stationery to the Western Cape education department and its district offices and schools, was awarded nearly R111.8m for PPE.
The director of Masiqhame Trading, Glennifer Daniels, did not respond to several messages.
Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schafer's spokesperson, Kerry Mauchline, said that the department had two existing contracts with Masiqhame for cleaning, gardening, electrical supplies and stationery.
"The Treasury instructions issued for emergency procurement of Covid-19 protective materials required departments to use their existing contracts. The department placed orders for the required goods using the existing contract with Masiqhame."
Yusuf Cassim, DA spokesman on education in Eastern Cape, slammed the department for getting principals to monitor the quality of PPEs delivered to schools, saying they did not have the necessary expertise.
"The only thing the department has managed to do is squander money to make Covid-19 tenderpreneurs millionaires."
Eastern Cape education department spokesperson Mali Mtima said that Beezee Bee Events had been told on a Saturday afternoon it was being considered as a supplier.
"We informed them that a formal communication will be given to them on the Monday," said Mtima.
"But on the same Saturday night we then told them not to order PPE."
He said this was because the original supplier had come back to indicate that PPE was being delivered to schools.
"We are trying to establish the legitimacy of the list that was submitted to the portfolio committee."
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