The civil rights watchdog AfriForum today laid criminal charges at the Johannesburg Central Police Station to investigate an alleged irregular tender of R24 million awarded by the Gauteng Department of Health.
The tender, which was awarded without following the accepted tender procedures, entails the supplying of specialised medical equipment to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.
“Only two companies in South Africa can supply this equipment and both put in tenders: one for R12 million and the other for R24 million. However, AfriForum received documents from a whistle-blower with proof that the tender evaluation committee had rejected the less expensive tender irregularly – even though it adhered to all the necessary requirements,” says Morné Mostert, AfriForum’s Head of Local Government Affairs.
The Department of Health’s tender evaluation committee rejected the less expensive tender without even considering the tender’s attachments. The charges also relate to payment of irregular invoices of amounts far higher than the corresponding services that had been rendered.
There is also written proof that an agent had been appointed beforehand and paid to arrange meetings between the more expensive tenderer and the Department. South African law prohibits the use of agents within any tender procedure. These offenses must therefore be investigated by the authorities.
“Funds which are spent by the Department should be utilised to help and care for people in hospitals, clinics and other care facilities, as well as to enable their personnel to do so – definitely not to fill the pockets of high-ranking individuals,” Mostert says.
Because the company of the more expensive tenderer has an international footprint, AfriForum will also lay charges with the Department of Justice in the USA in terms of this country’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), as well as with the British police service Scotland Yard in terms of the United Kingdom’s Bribery Act of 2010.
The FCPA makes it illegal for companies with an American connection to influence foreign officials with personal payments or rewards. In the same manner, the British Bribery Act of 2010 is viewed as the strictest anti-corruption legislation in the world: Individuals who contravene it may be sentenced to ten years imprisonment or receive unlimited fines. This legislation furthermore has virtually universal jurisdiction: It makes it possible to prosecute any person or company connected to the United Kingdom.
“We hope that the guilty parties will be brought to book and that justice will prevail. AfriForum will do all in its power to see to it that tax-payers’ money is utilised in a responsible, legal manner and that possible criminal activities are investigated thoroughly. AfriForum encourages whistle-blowers to come forward to help us expose corruption,” says Lambert de Klerk, AfriForum’s District Coordinator for Gauteng.