The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has stopped the payment of personal protective equipment to service providers in the Free State. This amid a SIU probe into a scandal in the province.

The provincial Finance Department says it has picked up some discrepancies on surgical gowns. Twenty one companies supplied the province with faulty surgical gowns.

“Of the 32 service providers that were suppose to provide us with surgical gowns, 21 of them provided us with surgical gowns that were not sterilised, when we expected that we should receive sterilised gowns. Now this is one issue that we would resolve ultimately that we must allow the SIU space so that they can look at what they suppose to look at,” says Free State Treasury HOD, Godfrey Mahlatsi.

In August, claims emerged that people who are close to former premier and current ANC secretary general, Ace Magashule, benefited from tenders worth million of rand in the province. Two of Magashule’s sons are amongst those said to have been awarded PPE tenders. Following this, the SIU was given a green light by president Cyril Ramaphosa to probe the misuse of COVID-19 funds.

SIU Spokersperson Kaizer Kganyago says: “We have started with the investigations around about the end of September when we’ve got the allegations that there’s a problem in their surgical gowns that were bought by Department of Health in the Free State and when we got in we started seeing some irregularities that were there and then we decided on the 2nd of October to write to both treasury and the Department of Health to say they shouldn’t continue with the payment of those people who have submitted or delivered until we are done with our investigations because we really want to get to the bottom of this.”

The SIU says it has taken the matter to the SIU Special Tribunal to make its request an order.

SIU stops payments for PPE in the Free State: