Opposition parties in the City of Cape Town are calling for heads to roll following a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report fingering the city for irregular procurement to the tune of about R42 million. The money was used for hiring tents to shelter homeless people at the Strandfontein camp during Level-5 of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The SIU released its report following investigations of irregular procurement of personal protective equipment at the outbreak of COVID- 19 in 2020.
Hundreds of the homeless were moved to Strandfontein at the outbreak of the virus in March 2020. The SIU found that the procurement of the tents and other services was not fair, equitable, or cost-effective and therefore must be set aside.
The city approved a contract for the hiring of tents with Downing Marquee Hiring apparently without following due tender processes. Leader of the GOOD Party in the Western Cape, Brett Herron, says it was a disastrous process which he highlighted from the beginning.
“There should be consequences for this, the DA must demonstrate accountability and good governance and heads must roll. Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis needs to fire the MMC for Safety and Security JP Smith who set up the camp using his disaster management department and championed the camp as a solution. The City Manager and CFO need to be reported to the council and they need to be investigated for their role in approving an obviously excessive amount for tent hire and failing to use a tender process. “
Herron says the R53 million spent on the camp could have been used to build permanent facilities to be used by homeless people.
The shelter accommodated around 1 500 homeless people in the early days after it was erected:
Discussion on the report
The leader of the African National Congress (ANC) in the City of Cape Town, Xolani Sotashe, says they want the SIU report discussed before the council.
“What the report does, it vindicates us as the ANC. You will recall we led opposition parties to Strandfontein concentration camp, and we are the ones who raised an alarm about dubious activities by the City of Cape Town, led by Dan Plato and JP Smith and we warned members of the public that if they don’t rise, their money is going to be looted by the City of Cape Town.”
The City of Cape Town in a statement says it has not received the full report of the SIU. They say emergency procurement processes were followed, however, the city will not hesitate to take action against those found to have been in the wrong.
Meanwhile, the SIU says it is seeking legal advice on how to recover the millions.
SIU has so far investigated more than 5 000 coronavirus related contracts: