PPE matter heard at the Special Tribunal sitting in the Mpumalanga High Court

ppe matter heard at the special tribunal sitting in the mpumalanga high court

The Mpumalanga High Court Division sitting in Mbombela is hearing to witnesses’ testimonies on how a company overcharged the provincial government for the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment in 2020. This is the first day of the Special Tribunal trial related to irregularities in the procurement process.

President Cyril Ramaphosa proclaimed that a full investigation be conducted into alleged irregularities in the procurement of PPEs with the aim of recouping the monies involved. Zeelwa Trading is said to have overcharged the Social Development Department by over R700 000. This emerged after the Special Investigating Unit probe. The company has denied the allegations and has indicated that it will cross-examine the SIU witnesses and bring its own witnesses. The hearing has been set for the whole week.

The Special Investigating Unit wants to recoup close to R800 000  from Mpumalanga-based Company, Zeelwa Trading. The company is accused of overcharging the Mpumalanga Department of Social Development on COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment in 2020. The SIU says prices were inflated and not in line with the National Treasury’s recommended prices. The matter is being heard at the Special Tribunal sitting in the Mpumalanga High Court, in Mbombela.

SIU investigators told the Special Tribunal that the company allegedly charged more than two times the amount set out in the National Treasury guidelines that came into effect in March 2020. This is for items such as surgical masks and gloves, and the SIU wants to recover the funds.

“We have instituted several proceedings to recover an estimated amount of R800 000 that is alleged to have been overcharged by a service provider by the name of the Zeelwa Trading. Various allegations have been made regarding irregularities to the manner in which the procurement was done and as such the application before the special tribunal to review and set aside as well as recovery the amount,” explains the spokesperson of Special Tribunal, Selby Makgotho.

Zeelwa Trading has denied the allegations, saying there were no guidelines at the time when they did business with the Department.

“There were no prescribed or prices in terms of the National Treasury notes at the time when he issued the quotation, so because there were no prices regulated, he was entitled to issue those quotations,” says Zeelwa Trading Laywer, Dimakatso Mashego.

Five witnesses are expected to testify in the week-long trial before Judge Lebogang Modiba makes a ruling.

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