Two top cops assigned by Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole to investigate and suspend Crime Intelligence head Peter Jacobs on charges of alleged personal protective equipment (PPE) tender irregularities are themselves at the centre of a Hawks and Special Investigations Unit probe into the R200m PPE procurement fraud, reports Daily Maverick.
Lieutenant-General Francinah Vuma, divisional commissioner: financial management and administration, as well as Major General Johannes Riet, acting and later divisional commissioner: supply chain of SAPS, were both in command when the deals went down between 29 March and 3 April 2020, days after the announcement of a national Level 5 lockdown.
Daily Maverick reports that in that short space of time, at least R200m was spent procuring emergency PPE equipment from four South African companies that appear to be brokers rather than suppliers or manufacturers, and that do not appear on the SAPS suppliers database.
The allegedly inflated tenders are now being investigated by the Hawks, as well as the SIU, which are both part of the intergovernmental anti-corruption “Fusion Centre” set up in August 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The multidisciplinary unit comprises SARS, the SIU, the Hawks and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).
In May 2020, the Hawks raided the homes of the directors of at least two of the implicated companies, Before Sunset’s pastor Lleka Putuka and Tombo Investments’ Azwodowhi Ramabulana.
The Hawks publicly confirmed the investigation in August 2020, the same month Police Minister Bheki Cele disclosed to Parliament that SAPS had spent about R1.4bn on PPE as at mid-July 2020.
Daily Maverick reports that whereas Vuma and Riet feature at the centre of these serious allegations, unlike Jacobs, they have not been placed on precautionary suspension or informed of any pending disciplinary proceedings. They continue to work.
Full Daily Maverick report (Open access)