SIUMail & Guardian reports that companies sanctioned by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for looting Covid-19 funds have to pay back the money, but are not being criminally charged and are still allowed to conduct business with government departments.

Service providers who delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) and other commodities to departments at inflated prices or through dodgy contracts are entering agreements with the SIU to return their ill-gotten gains. The SIU has been investigating PPE looting in terms of a proclamation issued by President Cyril Ramaphosa last year in response to the public outcry over the abuse of Covid-19 emergency funding during level five of the lockdown. It has powers to investigate and to recover state assets, but does not have powers of prosecution. In a number of cases, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, action against PPE looters is ending with SIU recovery agreements, with no further sanction being implemented by the government departments that the service providers looted. Officials in the education and social development departments were suspended over the contracts last year, but senior staff members in both departments said this week that no criminal charges had been laid against employees regarding the contracts set aside by the SIU. Neither were there moves by the departments to blacklist the companies or their owners. SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi indicated last week that the unit would continue to recover financial losses incurred by government departments as a result of irregular PPE contracts awarded.


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