AfriForum exposes COVID-19 corruption in City of Johannesburg

The civil rights organisation AfriForum today laid criminal charges of corruption at the Lyttleton Police Station against the City of Johannesburg and relevant suppliers. These charges follow after an internal audit report of the city council was sent to AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.

On 19 March 2020, after the announcement of a national state of disaster, the national treasury released a circular regarding the acquisition of COVID-19 emergency equipment and services. According to the circular, municipalities can request quotations from suppliers for these equipment and/or services provided that it complies with the Department of Health’s directives, the prices are not higher than a certain amount and the supplier is registered on the central supplier database (CSD).

During the period from 15 to 31 March 2020 the City of Johannesburg however spent nearly R80 million, which, according to an internal audit, implies a gross offence of various laws and regulations. Companies that specialise in vehicle brakes, for example, allegedly during this period received payment for supplying medical emergency equipment.

The City of Johannesburg paid, amongst others, the company Omphile Turnkey Solutions (which according to the company’s website specialises in, among others, interior decoration and architecture) more than R4,6 million for deep cleaning and sanitation. The company KM Mashigo Trading (which according to its website offers engineering services) also received R3,5 million for deep cleaning and sanitation.

A further investigation by AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit revealed that Tebogo Letselebe, director of Omphile Turnkey Solutions, is also an employee at KM Mashigo Trading. Kabelo Mashigo is the only director of KM Mashigo Trading, while Mashigo and Letselebe have the same contact number and business address. Both companies nevertheless submitted quotations to the City of Johannesburg for supplying the same services and later received payment.

“It is astonishing that the City of Johannesburg, despite this prima facie evidence, has still not taken any criminal steps against these individuals, as well as implicated parties in the city council. It seems that Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s promises about actual steps against those people committing corruption have up until now delivered no results. AfriForum as civil rights watchdog was thus compelled to intervene and lay these charges,” says Monique Taute, Head of AfriForum’s Anti-corruption Unit.

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