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Allegations of PPE tender corruption could have been avoided: Public Service Accountability Monitor
13 September 2021, 9:13 PM

The Public Service Accountability Monitor, based at Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape, says if all spheres of government had maintained adequate checks and balances, allegations of widespread corruption in the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for COVID-19, could have been avoided.

Director Jay Kruuse says it’s about time that all spheres of government crackdown on corruption.

The SIU, which is investigating allegations of corruption in PPE procurement, says the contracts involved run into billions of rands.

The SIU recently told parliament that by the end of June this year, it had spent more than R350 million investigating allegations of corruption in PPE contracts alone.

The unit said it investigated more than 4 000 contracts involving more than 2 400 service providers.

The unit’s Head Advocate Andy Mothibi says, “With the total value being investigated by SIU is standing at R4.8 billion. This is just to be re-emphasized, this is the value of alleged irregular contracts that SIU is investigating of this value already after investigation R1.39 billion has been referred to the special tribunal.”

Director of the Public Service Accountability Monitoring, Jay Kruuse, says government must act against officials who are involved in corrupt activities. He says officials who defraud the state must be removed from the system.

Kruuse says South Africa will continue to rely on the SIU until government deals decisively with corruption.

“Had municipalities provincial and national departments and state-owned entities maintained adequate checks and balances to avoid the misuse and abuse of systems that resulted in widespread corruption, we would not have needed to refer so many cases for investigation by the SIU. It is high time that departments and state-owned entities and municipalities across South Africa introduce and maintain checks and balances that limit the potential for abuse by public servants and contracts.”

SIU hands over 100 cases related to PPE corruption to the NPA for possible prosecution:

Government launches registration portal for businesses affected by unrest in KZN, Gauteng
13 September 2021, 9:01 PM

Government has launched a registration portal for the registration of businesses that were affected by the unrest which took place in July 2021 in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and other affected areas in the country.

The portal will be operational from Monday and will collect data from affected businesses to better coordinate these relief measures, as well as to inform future intervention as part of the relief package.

Announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 25 July, a range of measures are being implemented by national and provincial governments to rebuilt help small and medium businesses that were affected by the unrest.

Government is calling business owners affected by the unrest in July to register on the portal, which can be accessed via the QR code.

All businesses affected by the unrest are encouraged to register.

Businesses, who may experience problems accessing the portal, can also use the toll-free call centre numbers.

Treasury says the portal and call centre will remain open for affected businesses to register until the 30 September of 2021.

Reaction to economic relief measures announced by President Ramaphosa:

Nigeria says 75 abducted children released after army crackdown
13 September 2021, 8:29 PM

Seventy-five children who were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Zamfara were freed after their abductors came under pressure from a military crackdown, a state official said on Sunday.

Gunmen took the students from the village of Kaya on Sept. 1, the latest in a spate of mass kidnappings from schools across the region.

More than 1,100 children have been abducted since December last year. Authorities say heavily armed gangs of bandits, seeking ransom payments, are behind the abductions.

A spokesman for the Zamfara State governor said no ransom had been paid for the 75 children. The spokesman sent reporters images of boys and girls in uniform, seated inside what looked like a meeting room. He did not say when they were freed.

Zamfara has been one of the worst-hit states in the abduction crisis. On Sept. 3, authorities ordered a phone and internet blackout there while security forces cracked down on the gangs.

Since then, the state has been largely cut off from the outside world and while rumours have circulated about what is going on, the military has given little information.

Since Sunday evening, several Nigerian media outlets have reported that bandits in Zamfara had attacked a military base and killed 12 soldiers. Asked to comment, defence spokesman Major General Benjamin Sawyerr neither denied nor confirmed the reports.

Britain’s Prince Andrew to challenge US court jurisdiction in accuser’s lawsuit
13 September 2021, 8:06 PM

Britain’s Prince Andrew plans to challenge a US court’s jurisdiction over a civil lawsuit by a woman who accused him of sexually assaulting and battering her two decades ago, according to a Monday court filing.

In the filing with the US District Court in Manhattan, a lawyer for Andrew said the prince also plans to contest that he was properly served with the lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre, who has said she was also abused by the financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Lawyers for Giuffre did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Andrew, 61, is one of the most prominent people linked to Epstein, who US prosecutors charged in July 2019 with sexually exploiting dozens of girls and women.

Epstein, a registered sex offender, killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail on Aug. 10, 2019.

Giuffre has accused Andrew of forcing her in 2001, when she was 17, to have unwanted sexual intercourse at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite, and Epstein’s longtime associate.

Giuffre also said Andrew abused her at Epstein’s mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and on a private island, Epstein owned in the US Virgin Islands.

Andrew has denied Giuffre’s claims of sexual abuse.

Union slams government for exclusion of police in monthly cash allowance for civil servants
13 September 2021, 8:03 PM

The South African Police Union has slammed government for the exclusion of police officers in the monthly cash allowance to civil servants.

In terms of the new Public Sector Wage Agreement that was reached by government and public sector unions, civil servants are set to receive a monthly cash allowance of between R1 200 and R1 695  on a sliding scale backdated to April this year.

The new wage agreement also provides for a 1.5% wage increase across the board.

But unions say the government won’t say when the wage increase will be implemented.

It has only committed to start paying them monthly cash gratuity excluding police officers.

Spokesperson for the South African Police Union says, Lesiba Thobakgale says, “We had a meeting on Thursday – a PSCBC meeting where we were checking the state of readiness in terms of the implementation of the collective agreement that was concluded at the PSBC and we asked the employer whether they are ready to pay for all departments. They said they are ready to pay for all department except SAPS where they are having delays. In terms of reasons behind that, they could not give reasons and it really brings discomfort to our members because our members had budgeted on this amount of money. They were waiting to receive it.”

Unions and government lock horns over Public Sector Wage Agreement:

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