Competition Commission contemplates probing state officials and firms in alleged PPE price inflation

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Competition Commission says they are contemplating investigating firms and state officials allegedly involved in heavily inflating the price of personal protective equipment.

This follows allegations on the awarding of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) tenders, involving – among others the husband of Presidency spokesperson, Khusela Diko.

A COVID-19 expenditure report has revealed that Thandisizwe Diko’s Royal Bacha company charged the Gauteng Department of Health R58 per surgical mask, which has a regulated price of R12.48.

Competition Commissioner, Tembinkosi Bonakele says they are having discussions with the Special Investigating Unit regarding allegations of this nature.

“We have been talking to [National] Treasury … getting some information from them as well. Some government departments themselves have come to us saying there is suspicious conducts, I will be signing off today at least 10 such investigations.”

“We have to talk to people who are investigating corruption because often there is a link between the officials and these companies. So, it is not just a matter of mark-up decided by these companies – often that involves payments to officials which also push up the price. So it is a conflation and intersection of corruption and competition law and we are talking to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) about it,” explains Bonakele.

Competition Commissioner explains why they are fining some companies – but not the people who provide masks to government:

Meanwhile, Presidency spokesperson, Khusela Diko, and her husband, Chief Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko, released a statement, addressing the PPE tender scandal.

In the statement, the Chief Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko says, “I deeply regret that these efforts to earn an honest living and improve the well-being of my people are now mired in controversy.”

Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku and his wife, Loyiso, who is an MMC in the City of Johannesburg have since taken a leave of absence.

Masuku has denied involvement in alleged COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPEs) tender irregularities.