Suspended government officials await their fate
The KwaZulu-Natal Social Development’s Head of Department, Nelly Vilakazi, said 13 officials implicated in a R22 million blanket scandal, will soon know their fate.
“As of now, we do have a team that is going to look into this matter, in terms of consequences management that are in line with the Labour Relations Act”, Vilakazi said in an interview on eNCA.
The officials have been suspended for their alleged involvement in the irregular procurement of blankets for the homeless, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vilakazi said while providing blankets has always been part of a bigger ongoing effort to help the less fortunate, the COVID-19 pandemic was no different as they had to ensure that even the homeless were taken care of as a way to counter the spread of the respiratory disease.
Other goods also included soups, towels, wet wipes as well as sanitisers.
Vilakazi: ‘Actions have been taken’
The provincial executive council commissioned an investigation. Vilakazi said a report from the probe made a number of recommendations.
The report found that there had been an abuse of COVID-19 emergency procurement provisions and efforts to cover up, which included attempts to backdate submissions for awards to service providers.
“Upon receipt of the report by the department, there are actions that have been taken. First of all the department assembled a team that includes the HOD (Head of Department), legal and labour relations officers and then we went through the report”, she said.
“The reports are quite thick…We went through the report and then we engaged the office of the premier because we wanted them to support us in terms of the capacity and thereafter we also engaged the Department of Public Service and Administration that also supported the department.”
Vilakazi added that the officials affected range from those working at senior to operational level.
Explaining how the alleged scheme occurred, Vilakazi said an acting HOD had signed off on the procurement of PPE only after the orders were issued to service providers, which is not government procedure.
“The accounting officer must first approve a submission to procure blankets or anything that has to be procured before the actual procurement”, she said.